Reminder Assistant Editor
WILBRAHAM Cheerleading is not just pom-poms and ponytails for the Titan All Stars cheerleading squad. Made up of boys and girls from Wilbraham, Hampden, Ludlow, East Longmeadow and beyond, the cheerleaders, ranging in age from preschool to college age, show off in regional and national show downs against other squads for trophies and glory.
The squads practice at All American Gymnastics Academy in Wilbraham, fine-tuning their flips, jumps, stunts and stands and their hard work is paying off.
The junior and senior squads earned places in the Universal Cheerleaders Association (UCA) All Stars Nationals at a summer camp last year at Mt. Ida College and will be traveling to Walt Disney World in Florida in March to compete. The cost for this trip to the nationals is large, however.
"There are 18 on the junior squad and 20 on the senior squad," said Lisa Barfield, who co-owns the Titan All Stars with her husband Dennis. "It's going to be a hugely expensive trip." She estimated the cost for airfare, registration, lodging, etc. to total between $60,000 and $70,000.
"The parents pay for everything," Barfield explained, "including the coaches' plane tickets and everything else."
Because the cost for this trip is so high, the Titan All Stars work hard to raise as much money through fundraisers as possible. Barfield said $39,000 have already been raised through sales of Christmas wreaths, wrapping paper, Tupperware and other venues. She added the group tries to have one fundraiser every month.
The next big fundraiser for the Titans will be a silent auction and wine tasting event in Ludlow on Feb. 9.
"We thought this would be a good way to have an adults-only event and help build camaraderie between parents," organizer of the event, Mike Flebotte, said.
Nearly 50 items have been donated for the auction, including restaurant gift certificates, Six Flags New England tickets, a free oil change and tire rotation, a three-month gym membership, a portable DVD player and more.
"We're very fortunate to have all that stuff donated," Flebotte said. He added that he is still waiting to hear back from the New England Patriots, the Patriots' cheerleaders, the Boston Bruins and the New England Revolution about donated items for the auction.
The father of three cheerleaders, Flebotte hopes to defer the cost of the trip to Florida a bit with the auction and wine tasting event. "Cheerleading is an expensive sport, but the friendships created at events like this last a lifetime," he said.
This is the first year the Titans will be hosting an auction and Flebotte said the first year is always the hardest when trying something new. While he hopes to break even with the evening, Barfield has a goal of raising between $2,000 and $3,000.
The last time the Titan All Stars traveled to the UCA All Stars Nationals was in 2006, when three different squads took fourth, seventh and tenth places titles.
While Barfield wants her squads to win, she said the real focus of the competition is "to have a good time."
The silent auction and wine tasting will run from 7 to 11 p.m. at the Gremio Lusitano Club, 385 Winsor St. in Ludlow on Feb. 9. Tickets are $20 each and can be purchased from Flebotte by calling him at 583-6624 during the day or at 221-8048 between 4 and 11 p.m.
For more information about the Titan All Stars, visit their Web site at www.titanallstars.com.