WILKES-BARRE – It didn’t take long for the back room of Rodano’s to fill up, as patrons poured in to support a local cheerleading squad.
The GAR cheerleading team held their annual fundraiser inside the Public Square restaurant on Sunday, offering unlimited pizza, stromboli, soda and beer along with raffle baskets and more.
Greeting attendees, GAR senior cheerleader Mikayla Andrzejewski talked about why the team held the event.
“It’s just like a little benefit to help our team get to camp,” she said. “The costs every year are usually pretty hefty.”
The squad has 24 members and cheers at various athletic events for the school. They also regularly participate in community and charitable events throughout the school year, such as St. Jude’s and the Wilkes-Barre City Crime Watch Association.
Proceeds from the event will help squad members attend a UCA Cheer camp in Pine Forest. The camp costs almost $300 per cheerleader, without factoring regular needs that also need to be paid for, like uniforms and equipment.
“It’s a four-day camp. We go there and we learn cheers, sideline dances. We compete against all the schools on the last day, and last year we actually got first place camp champions,” she said.
Andrzjewski credited her Coach Ashley Altavilla for setting up various fundraisers to help the cheerleaders throughout the year.
Altavilla said the fundraisers help the girls not only get into the community, but teach responsibility. Holding events where the girls can participate assist in teaching them a good work ethic, and a better understanding of working hard to get what they want, she noted.
“I try to do fundraisers like this just to get everybody together and acknowledge that they are a hard-working group of kids,” she said. “They’re a good group of girls, and its nice to have everybody come together for a good cause as opposed to just being like ‘hey, buy this’.”
This school year is also sentimental to many of the girls, for it will be the last the team will operate as Grenadiers. The Wilkes-Barre School Board voted to consolidate the district’s sports groups, including the cheerleading teams.
“Sports are being combined for all three schools regardless next year. So there will be no Grenadier cheerleading squad next year, it’s going to be the three schools combined,” Altavilla explained. ‘So I really just want them to have the best possible year that they could. This is the last hoorah.”
The squad will also be holding a car was fundraiser next Saturday at Sunoco on South Main Street in Wilkes-Barre, as well a participating in the annual Night Out held by the City’s Crime Watch.
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