Kriste Lewis is a 40-year-old mother of two boys with a kidney disease who fulfilled a lifelong dream by trying out for the Saintsations—and defeated all odds by making the team.

A longtime dance instructor from Hattiesburg, MS, Lewis tried out for the team back in April. Not only would she be going up against girls that were literally half her age, she would be up against her own health.

Kriste revealed to ABC that fourteen years ago she was diagnosed with polycystic kidney disease.

Eventually my kidneys will shut down [and] I will be in need of dialysis and in need of a transplant.

She didn't want to waste a day, deciding to use her condition as inspiration to chase her dream, and when she got the news that she was one of the 36 women selected to the 2014-2015 Saintsations roster, Kriste says she couldn't believe it.

Former Saintsation Harmony Thibodeaux-Lyles believes that in addition to being inspirational, Kriste's achievement shows that cheerleading goes beyond "pom poms and pretty smiles." Lyles also believes the publicity surrounding her story "gives the entire country a glimpse" into how "well-rounded and inspiring" NFL cheerleaders can be.

Saintsations are brand ambassadors for the New Orleans Saints, and their job is not only to cheer on the sidelines; but to uplift the team, the city, and the entire community—both on and off the field.

Now Lewis is looking forward to her first NFL game when the Saints play their home opener against the Minnesota Vikings in September.

I cannot wait for us to run out for the first time and we run out on that field.

Until then she'll be practicing hard and enjoying time at home with her sons, Jake (14), Rob (11), and her husband, Tim.

Lewis tells ABC that she hopes her achievement can give hope and inspiration to other women, especially other mothers, to never give up on their dreams.


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[via ABC]