This is 40! Kriste Lewis, a 40-year-old mother to two, proved she just gets better with age, making the New Orleans Saints’ Saintsations Dance Team for the first time this summer.
Lewis, who works as a dance fitness instructor, auditioned for the NFL cheerleaders alongside talented women 10 and 20 years her junior. “There were a lot of young, beautiful girls,” she told Good Morning America. She is now of just two women in their forties on NFL dance squads.
“I could not believe it!” she told the Associated Press about making the team. “Honestly, when I went to the audition, I really had no idea that I would make it. I just wanted to experience it and I wanted to make memories.”
In addition to serving as a 40th birthday present to herself, the decision to go out for the squad was in part inspired by Lewis’ ongoing health problems. The mother to sons was diagnosed with polycystic kidney disease 14 years ago, and faces a future of dialysis and eventually the need for a transplant.
“That had a lot to do with me auditioning,” she told GMA. “I didn’t want to waste a day.”
Lewis did not let her age nor her diagnosis hold her back.
“I’m pretty limber, you know, for a forty-year-old woman,” Lewis, who was the oldest woman to try out for Saintsations, added to the AP. “When I did that first split, I thought I was gonna die. It had been twenty years! That was the one thing that I was like, ‘I’m determined. If I don’t get anything else, if I don’t make this team, I’m gonna get my split back.'”
Now that her split is back, Lewis is ready to hit the field at the Saints’ games in the fall. “I cannot wait to get to the Superdome,” she gushed to GMA. “I cannot wait for us to run out for that first time.”
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