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Mustang Cheerleaders Win Invite To Nationals

Kalaheo High's cheerleaders plan a Papa John's Pizza benefit this Friday as they build a travel fund for a national tournament appearance in March (979-7272). They are (front, from left) Sernia C., Esther B., Katelyn S., Vela A., Kaelin T., Pomaikai R. (middle) Anna X., Devin D., Briana A., Kristian K., Amber H., Skye C., Hailey H., (back) Taylar G., Brittany H., Taylor P., Ally F., Amanda J., Hayli G., Tihani W. and Alexandra R. Photo by Fivephotography.

Kalaheo High’s cheerleaders plan a Papa John’s Pizza benefit this Friday as they build a travel fund for a national tournament appearance in March (979-7272). They are (front, from left) Sernia C., Esther B., Katelyn S., Vela A., Kaelin T., Pomaikai R. (middle) Anna X., Devin D., Briana A., Kristian K., Amber H., Skye C., Hailey H., (back) Taylar G., Brittany H., Taylor P., Ally F., Amanda J., Hayli G., Tihani W. and Alexandra R. Photo by Fivephotography.

By PAIGE TAKEYA

Dreams really do come true for Kalaheo High School’s cheerleading squad.

The Mustangs recently won a $5,000 grant to compete in the 20th annual AmeriCheer and AmeriDance InterNational Championships at Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista in Florida next spring.

According to head coach Shannon Callen, the March 22-23 competition – which will be televised on ESPN – is a major milestone for the team of Hawaiian cheer ambassadors. “It’s the first chance that our team has competed off-island in probably a little under a decade,” she said. “It’s a huge opportunity for them to be seen on a larger stage, and it’s a reward for all their hard work.”

The event is a worldwide competition for cheerleading and dance squads of all skill levels from 10 nations and schools from across America. Teams come from as far away as Ecuador and Australia to participate. Kalaheo got its chance at the spotlight when it entered the Dreams Come True, Rewards for You! contest sponsored by AmeriCheer. Teams had to create a two-minute video about their organization’s service projects and community involvement. Only four applicants were picked to receive a grant toward their participation in the championship.

“There’s an additional side to being a cheerleader,” Callen added. “It’s an opportunity to be a mentor, to be a role model in the community.” She pointed to the team’s beach cleanups and cancer drive, as well as work as individuals in other campus organizations, including National Honor Society, student council, JROTC and varsity sports teams – all the while exemplifying the good the team does off the field.

The squad’s win, in fact, came from “striving to be the best while leaving a positive impact on others,” according to a letter from AmeriCheer.

But such a big chance doesn’t come cheap. Callen said it will cost about $30,000 to take the team of 15 to Florida. The girls plan to raise the remaining $25,000 through fundraisers and donations.

Those keen on helping the Mustangs can donate to Kalaheo High School Cheerleading through Bank of Hawaii, or take part in one of the fundraisers the team will have over the next few months.

To watch their winning video, visit www.youtube.com/watch?v=ekXyN2dIOQw.

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