The Lake-Lehman Jr./Sr. High School was bursting with energy, generosity and cheer on Oct. 27 during the Sixth Annual Cheer for a Cause Cheer Off.
This year's event was held in memory of 8 month-old Eleanor Ayers who passed away on April 5. Eleanor, or Ellie as she was known, was diagnosed at just 4 months of age with a rare heart condition called cardiomyopathy.
Ellie's mother, Jennifer Ayers, was really overwhelmed with the size of the event.
Ayers is a Lake-Lehman graduate who now lives in Williamsport with her husband, Geof, and their 7-year-old son, Malcom. She grew up with the children of cheerleading Coach Sandy Dobrowolski and was touched when Dobrowolski asked if the Ayers family would be willing to be the face for this year's competition.
Even though Ellie isn't here anymore, she has inspired so many people and she can still do great things, Ayers said.
Forty teams from all over the region and 16 organizations participated in making the fundraising charity event a success. Donations were made by Misericordia University, Curves and A's Cutting Crew, as well as private donations.
Proceeds from the event were split between Candy's Place, a resource center for cancer patients and the Children's Cardiomyopathy Foundtion or CCF, a non-profit organization that focuses on research for pediatric cardiomypathy.
The Charity Cup presented and sponsored by the Ayers family went to the Pittston Patriots who collected over $300 in donations.
I feel so much love for these families I've never met because you just never know if your child is going to survive, said Ayers.
Lake-Lehman seniors Ashlee Barker and Sommer Sereyka organized the competition as part of their senior completion project.
We wanted it, they said.
Sereyka has been cheering for over 10 years and both girls felt it was an honor to be trusted with an event that is not just the face of the charity but reflects their school in such a way. Their hope was to raise $10,000, to beat last year's numbers. Last Saturday's event raised over $11,000 through the combined efforts of the sponsors and participating squads. Over the past five years, the competition has raised over $36,000 for various charities.
Volunteers helped raise funds by assisting in the refreshment booths and at booths for gear and raffles.
Rachel Mahoney and Mikayla Weston, members of the Lake-Lehman Key Club, ran a table selling pink ribbons and bracelets for breast cancer awareness. Shannon Prince volunteered to help with the event by running the raffle basket table featuring baskets donated by local businesses and private donations.
Deanna Dragon, one of the seniors who started the event in 2007, served as a judge for Saturday's competition.
This is truly a community event, Dobrowolski said.
All cheerleaders received a medal for participation and trophies were awarded by category in each age group as follows:
Hello and Dance: Kingston Twp. Raiders
Sideline and Hometown Cheer: Hanover Mini Hawks
Hello and Sideline: Plains Yankees
Hometown Cheer: Nanticoke Junior Trojans
Dance: West Side Falcons
All categories in this category (Homer, Sideline, Hello and Dance) were won by the Plains Yankees
Hello, Hometown and Dance: Plains Yankees
Sideline: West Pittston Rams