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40-year-old mom with kidney disease becomes NFL cheerleader

Many of us are eagerly counting down the days until our favorite football teams hit the field come September. But in the meantime, NFL teams have been busy sweating it out during practice and filling their cheerleading squads for the coming year.

And one of those new cheerleaders is making headlines – not for her dance ability nor her beauty, but for her age.

At 40 years old, Kriste Lewis, who's also a mother of two, is now a first-year member of the New Orleans Saints' cheerleading squad, called the Saintsations. A writer for the The Times-Picayune said Lewis was given one of just 36 coveted spots on the team's roster – a roster that's mostly filled with 19-year-olds and 20-somethings.

>> Read more trending stories

Lewis decided to try out for the squad as a 40th birthday present to herself, according to the Hattiesburg American.

She told the outlet: "I think too many times we wait too late to start on our bucket lists. Start it while you feel good and you can still enjoy it. ... I went into [the tryout] with the idea that the audition would be a celebration."

What she didn't realize was all the judges would unanimously vote to put her on the team after three rounds of auditions. And there's another reason Lewis' goals are so important to her: She told ABC she was diagnosed with polycystic kidney disease 14 years ago. Unfortunately, there's no known cure.

>> PHOTOS: Cheerleaders show spirit at NFL playoffs

"Eventually, my kidneys will shut down. I will lose function in both kidneys, and I will be in need of dialysis and eventually a transplant," she said.

It seems like Lewis' two sons, Jake and Rob, are loving that their mom is on the team. In fact, their friends now think of Lewis as the cool mom.

Jake says all his friends are "really jealous" of him.

>> PHOTOS: Cheerleaders bring the spirit to NCAA tournament

"She's just the best mom a child could ever have," Rob said.

But believe it or not, Lewis is not the oldest professional cheerleader out there. Laura Vikmanis joined the Cincinnati Bengals in 2009, when she was also 40 years old. Five years later, she's still on the team.

For now, Lewis is busy practicing with the women she calls her "35 little sisters." She says she can't wait to step onto the field for the Saints' first game.

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