Mar. 30, 2019

By Claire Tadokoro
Tribune Reporter

The Down Syndrome Group of the Ozarks (DSGO) recently recognized Ashley Vest in honor of National Down Syndrome Day as a community champion. According to the DSGO website, members of DSGO nominated people who do amazing things with their loved ones who have Down Syndrome.

Coach Ashley Vest and dancer Brianna Davis

Vest was nominated by Sandy Thompson for Vest’s work with Brianna Davis, Thompson’s daughter.

“Ashley teaches Brianna dance and has for five years,” the announcement stated. “Ashley is one person that honestly, deep down believes in Brianna. She has performed in front of 1000’s of people and without her number one dance teacher, she couldn’t have done it!”

Vest coaches Davis at Cheers! Elite Spirit Gym in Bolivar, MO where she is loved, supported, and gives just as much to the staff as they give to her.

“Something that stands out about Brianna is how much people are drawn to her,” said Vest. “Sometimes it’s hard for us to get much done at her lesson because she has to high five and give hugs to all the girls at the gym. She’s taught myself, our staff and our students more than we could ever teach her.”

Vest grew up in Lee’s Summit dancing at Steppin’ Out until she started cheerleading for Lee’s Summit North where she graduated in 2003.

Just three years later, she opened her own gym where’s she’s been able to touch the lives of students including Brianna Davis in an encouraging environment.

“When I opened my gym in 2006, I said I wanted a place where anyone could be a cheerleader or dancer. The other girls at the gym truly deserve some recognition too, they are so kind and inclusive and supportive of Brianna.”

Vest is a staunch friend and supporter of those with Down Syndrome both in and out of her gym, also keeping in touch daily with her own cousin who has Down Syndrome.

To learn more about the Down Syndrome Group of the Ozarks, visit

Check out Cheers! Elite Spirit Gym at or call 417-777-2231.