Pennsylvania cheer squads participated in charity competition, with proceeds going to the local Boys and Girls Club.
Often, the talents of young cheerleaders go overlooked when they spend most of their time spreading school spirit on the sidelines at football games. Elementary and middle school-aged squads, which don't generally compete, rarely get to be the center of attention. Once a year, however, young cheer teams from all over Pennsylvania gather for the CheerFest Cheer for Charity. This year's event was held on October 12th in the Chambersburg Area Senior High School Gymnasium, and over 450 girls got to participate.
Excitement levels were high during the Saturday cheer competition as teams prepared to try to wow the judges with their two-and-a-half minute routines. The event was divided into four age groups (smurf, junior varsity, mid-varsity, and varsity), but all of the girls had to be in kindergarten through 8th grade to participate. The event organizer and president of the Keystone Youth Football and Cheerleading League, Alan Kline, noted that the event is especially exciting for the young cheerleaders because they rarely get to be competitive in their sport. "This allows them to showcase their talents and skills as cheerleaders outside of the normal arena of a football game or practice," he told Herald-Mail Media.
Many high school cheerleaders are familiar with using their participation in the sport to raise money for a worthy cause, but CheerFest seeks to instill this love of fundraising in younger participants as well. A percentage of the cost of admission and proceeds from the spirit gear that was available for purchase at the event went to the Boys and Girls Club of Chambersburg and Shippensburg. The organization provides after school programs for underprivileged kids and teens and gives them a place to grow and learn under the mentorship of caring adults from the area.
Ashley Geesaman, mother of one of the girls who participated in the CheerFest event, told Herald-Mail Media that participating being a cheerleader has been quite the commitment for her daughter Desi--who spends about eight hours in practice each week on top of the team's duties at football games. While Desi has gained self-confidence and discipline from cheering, her mom was still excited to get to witness a competition where the cheerleaders were the true stars. "They don't get a lot of the individual attention that they work so hard for," she said. "Today, it's about them. They work so hard, and now, they get to showcase what they have."
To learn more about the Keystone Youth Football and Cheerleading Leage and stay informed about next year's CheerFest Cheer for Charity event, you can visit their website at http://www.kyflfootball.com
If you would like to make a donation to the Boys and Girls Club of Chambersburg and Shippensburg, you can visit the organization's website here: http://www.bgccs.org