By Luke Baynes
The day after Christmas, as her fellow Willistonians were hunkering down for more than a foot of snow, Sarah Gerry was on a transatlantic flight bound for Heathrow Airport to prepare for the London New Year’s Day Parade.
Gerry, an 18-year-old senior at Champlain Valley Union High School, is the first ever CVU cheerleader to be selected to perform in the London celebration.
“Every summer the National Cheerleaders Association comes to my school, CVU, to do a summer camp for us and teach us technical skills,” Gerry explained. “At the end of that three-day period, we have a chance to try out for an All-American status, and for the past two years I have received that designation. Once you have that All-American status, you are able to go on these trips.”
CVU Head Cheerleading Coach Michelle Filardi said Gerry’s selection was well deserved.
“Sarah has all the skills,” Filardi said. “Sarah’s a great dancer, she has great jumps, she’s a tumbler and a great cheerleader. She met all the categories she needed to meet.”
Gerry, who began cheering as a sophomore in CVU’s cheerleading club, participated in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City in 2011. She noted that it was only in the past year that cheerleading was recognized as a bona fide sport by CVU.
“There is quite a bit of conditioning that we do every day after practice, especially core strength and upper body strength,” Gerry said. “We’ve been very fortunate over the past year that CVU has really recognized us and all the hard work that we’ve put into it, because we’ve definitely come very far from what we started out with.”
Despite her All-American status, Gerry’s trip to London wasn’t a free ride. To fund the $3,000 excursion she sent letters to friends and family and organized a raffle for a hot air balloon ride. She even collected bottles and cans.
“I did just about everything I could to fundraise for it, and I thank the Lord every day that I made it,” she said.