For the first time, Westwood Middle School cheerleaders partnered with a community business to raise money for the team. On Saturday, Dec. 8, the cheerleaders served pancakes at O’Charley’s. Plates were $8. Everyone who attended got the chance to meet Santa as well.
All proceeds went to the WMS Cheer Boosters, a fund that helps pay for competition travel expenses and equipment. Eighth grade cheerleader Liza Johnson explained this event was going to toward a completion in Gatlinburg. One of the cheerleader’s mother, Heather Hershman, mentioned the team needed mats to practice on too, which can cost around $750 each.
Fourteen of the 15 squad members were there Saturday morning.
“I feel like I’m helping a lot. It feels great to help,” said sixth grade cheerleader Cora Harrison.
The first-year cheerleader explained she was nervous about joining the squad at first because it was so new, but now, she feels right at home with her squad and comfortable with new things, like serving breakfast for a fundraiser.
Eighth grader Kara Beth Patton added that they are all family, no matter their age or when they joined the squad.
“These girls are our family. The eighth graders kind of take the lower graders under our wing. I love being that role model to them.
Eighth grader Ashley Rigney explained this is good experience for them too.
“It’s good, especially for future work. It’s good work doing it,” Rigney said.
Patton added that it’s a good way for the squad to represent themselves in the community and to work with it.
Johnson, who has done a few fundraisers before for other causes, explained that she enjoys reeling people in.
All of the girls agreed the best part of the morning was seeing children’s faces light up when they saw Santa or when they were served food.
First-year cheer Coach Kinda Baxter was thrilled with O’Charley’s staff and “couldn’t thank them enough” for helping them fundraise and allowing the girls the experience of working and serving food.
O’Charley’s is located at 2367 Hillsboro Blvd. The store was open specifically for the fundraiser from 8-10 a.m. on Dec. 8.