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Meet The Cheerleader Of The Week: Vanessa

Vanessa COTW 18

Before the start of the season, Colts Cheerleader Director Kelly Tilley challenged Vanessa and her teammates to come up with a cause personal to them to support this season.

"She kind of blew us away when she told us her idea," Vanessa said. "It's so much bigger than cheer, so much bigger than football. It's a community, it's giving back to something that's bigger than all of us."

While she embraced the challenge, finding a cause she wanted to embrace was tougher than she thought.

"I really struggled with trying to figure out what path I wanted to go with for my organization. And then one day I just opened my eyes and I was like, 'It's been staring at me. This is the organization that I work with all the time,'" she said. "I just started working at a law firm downtown and they do quite a bit of work with NeuroHope. It's for people who are recovering from a spinal injury or brain injury."

It's a long recovery and for many people, their insurance runs out before their rehab is complete.

"NeuroHope makes it affordable for people to continue their progress and their journey back to the place they were or even a better place," she said.

Founded by a Hoosier, Chris Leeuw, who suffered a life-changing spinal cord injury in Southern Indiana – he had to move to Nevada to continue his progress after his insurance ran out.

"He brought that back to the state of Indiana and it's really one of the only places in the Midwest that offers these services to people once their insurance can no longer help them." 

NeuroHope is a nonprofit organization that gives patients in Indiana long-term access to cutting-edge rehabilitation.

It's one of the reasons she chose to work for her employer.

The Colts Cheerleaders partnered with Apple Vacations for their 2018 Creative Shoot in Mexico. Here is a look at Vanessa's trip to the Sandos Playacar Resort in Mexico showing her personality!

"They are so involved with this organization and pushing for this organization and that was something that was really important to me. I wanted to work somewhere that was going to be more than just a business."

Whether she's representing the firm or representing the Colts, for Vanessa, it feels good to know that she's giving back to someone. And when she hits the field on game day, those are the people she's doing it for. 

"There are people out there that want to be able to do what we call our job and our passion. It's about doing it for them, for those who can't but want to so badly. I think that's what keeps me going," she said.


Every year, Tilley finds a way to not only keep the Colts Cheerleaders going, but to raise the bar and push them a little farther.   

"She is always looking for ways to make our team better other than just dancing. She really strives to make us better humans and better people," Vanessa said. "You can work on technique day in and day out, but if you don't have a good heart, you're not meant for this job."

The heart of the Horseshoe is one of the reasons Vanessa chose Colts Cheer and it's one of the things that keeps her coming back.

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"Last year, instead of doing Christmas gifts, we got to donate to families and give them Christmas instead. That's how you use a platform," she said. "It's all about bringing a smile to their face. It's all about bringing hope. It's all about filling their heart."

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