STREETSBORO, Ohio – Streetsboro and Cloverleaf high schools battled it out on the football field Friday, but it was what happened on the sidelines that got much of the attention.
Streetsboro senior and varsity soccer player Kaylee Klein said she came up with the plan during the summer and was eventually able to get the school’s cheerleaders, band members and other students to participate. With the game well in hand for Streetsboro, cheerleaders started chanting “J-A-K-E,” the name of Streetsboro junior Jake Butler, who was in the stands as a part of the band.
Jake, who was diagnosed with autism, was called out of the stands onto the track where Klein invited him to the school’s Oct. 5 homecoming. Kaylee said she and Jake had been friends since both of them were in preschool together.
“He’s so funny, like when I’m in a room and I’m upset, and he’ll be there he always makes me laugh because he smiles and makes everything happy,” she said.
Jake had no idea of the plan until the cheerleaders started spelling out his name. With the invitation captured on home video, the look on Jake’s face as he comes out of the stands can only be described as pure joy.
“Cheerleaders held the signs that spelled my name,” said Jake, describing Kaylee as a “very nice girl.”
“It’s going to be very exciting. It’s going to be dancing and decorations,” he said.
“The outpouring the support from the band the cheerleaders the student section all the kids got behind this and were equally excited that was thrilling to see from my perspective the kindness being shown,” said Kelly Butler, Jake’s mother.
Kylee said she knows she could have extended the invitation in a more quiet setting, but chose to do it in front of the student body.
“I wanted everyone to be a part of it, like the student section, the crowd,” she said. “I think it will be fun and I think it will teach people not to judge a book by its cover.”
“It means be kind, be gentle,” Jake said.
“I think we need more Kaylees in the world that are like that. It’s awesome, it’s really awesome and I hope that continues throughout Jake’s life that he encounters people like Kaylee that are there for him and supportive and show him friendship,” said his mother