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Florida State cheerleader is an inspiration on and off the field

Posted at 10:10 PM, Sep 20, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-21 22:22:02-04

Mitch Tilmon wanted to be a Florida State Seminole cheerleader. That was his goal, and that dream was achieved this summer.

"I really love games," he said of his favorite thing he gets to do as a member of the cheer squad. "Experiencing the crowd and getting everyone hyped up, it's so much fun."

For his teammates, Tilmon was the perfect addition to the sidelines.

"He always has a smile on his face no matter what happened during his day," said senior Katie Barnette.

"He's an amazing tumbler," added Staci Sutton. "He's doing more elite skills than most people on this team."

Tilmon was born with amniotic band syndrome, a genetic condition that results in deformities of the limbs, but he's never let it hold him back.

"When I was growing up, I didn't really see anyone like me," he said. "I never saw someone I could look up to and be like okay if they're doing it, I can do it. I really had that drive, and I was like can I do this. It feels really good to be in the spot where I am in now."

The rest is history.

"The first time I ever stunted with him, I kind of felt bad asking," said Barnette. "I was like, do I need to change anything? He was like, no! Just do the same thing! I was like okay, and it hit. It was crazy."

"I don't think about it as I have one arm, I need to do this a certain way," he said. "I'm like, how am I going to overcome this and be like everyone else and be like a normal athlete."

"He never asks to be switched out of anything. It's just incredible," added Sutton. "He's an inspiration to the coaching staff as well as the entire team."

Sutton said she didn't originally see Tilmon's audition tape, as she never received it. Tomlin used that never-quit attitude, called her up, and she said as soon as she saw him tumbling, it was an easy decision to add him to the squad.