RIO HONDO — The awards ceremony for the Spirit Belles was the last as the team director for Susan Lopez.

The party was packed as the Spirit Belles enjoyed the evening together at Mr. Gatti’s in Harlingen recently to wrap up the year and receive their cheerleading medals.

Lopez also gave her announcement that she would be retiring as the director of the organization.

It has been a duty Lopez held for 21 years — since she founded the program that has trained cheerleaders ages 4 to 13 in 1995.

“I will miss the Spirit Belles, but I will continue to see them, and be happy every time I see them moving on to be junior high and varsity cheerleaders,” Lopez said. “I am grateful and blessed for all the volunteers and wonderful cooperative parents that have supported me and the Belles.”

Over the years Lopez has had squads consisting of as many as 80 cheerleaders per season.

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