Fifteen young athletes were offered the chance of a lifetime — and they’re asking for your help to make it happen.
Oakdale Inferno Cheer, a competitive cheerleading team coached by Samantha Silva, was invited to perform at the prestigious, nationally-televised Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade this year in New York.
When Spirit of America Productions contacted Silva to break the good news, it took a minute for the experienced cheer coach to decide if the offer was real.
“I was a little shocked,” Silva shared, admitting, “I honestly sat on the email for about two days because I thought it was fake. Then I called and emailed and found out that this was in fact very real.”
Although the nomination was submitted anonymously, Silva said the team was chosen by their video performance at JAMZ National in Las Vegas.
Once she realized it was, in fact, the real deal, Silva was floored, yet so proud of her athletes.
“I was super excited because this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” Silva said. “Not everyone gets to do this — to be on such a large national TV scale to perform in front of the entire country and world and anyone else watching so it’s a huge opportunity.”
But the opportunity comes at a significant cost.
In order to perform in the parade, every team asked to participate must travel to New York for a week of rehearsals, custom fittings, and multiple tours.
The team is fundraising $60,000, which will cover expenses, fittings, travel, and accommodations for the week.
“It’s not cheap,” Silva said. “It’s not cheap at all but they go on multiple tours while there. They do the Statue of Liberty tour, the 911 Memorial tour, they go to a Broadway show, they get to go to meet the Rockettes and hang out with them for a little bit and then they have rehearsal every day leading up to the day of the parade. They also get a uniform included and they get jackets and a bunch of memorabilia to take with them. So, it is expensive but when you think about it in retrospect, they get a lot of stuff.”
Inferno parent Laura Cunningham said, “It’s very exciting for them and for us parents to go and watch them — it’s exciting all around for everyone.”
Silva and her team immediately started fundraising, determined to get every Inferno athlete to New York.
“This is something she’s going to remember for the rest of her life and be able to tell her kids about,” said Inferno parent Jennifer Wallace. “It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience.”
While the adults are trying to figure out how to make a dream come true, the athletes are still reeling from the honor of being asked to perform.
For 16-year-old Dana Martin, the opportunity to represent the cheerleading sport and the community of Oakdale is an incredible privilege but Thanksgiving Day is also her birthday.
“I’m excited because we’re bringing Oakdale to New York and it’s a big opportunity for our team,” Martin said.
Inferno cheerleader Leighla Delosrios said, “I’m excited because this is our opportunity to show how we can represent our small town and how dedicated we are and how we love to perform for everyone.”
Donations — big or small — are appreciated.
“Right now, we have a PayPal donation link set up so anyone can donate to that link. We also take checks. We are a nonprofit,” Silva explained. “I have a 501C3 number, it’s all tax deductible. People can go to our Pay Pal, which is on our Facebook profile. Our Instagram profile also has a link.”
The deadline to reach their goal is Sept. 15 and it’s coming fast.
For more information on how to donate to the Oakdale Inferno Cheer Macy’s Day Thanksgiving Fund, call Samantha Silva at 209-535-0175 or email at: firstname.lastname@example.org.