Gurnee-based cheerleading group invited to Macy's parade struggle to pay for trip
A competitive suburban cheerleading team has been invited to perform in the annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City, but the anticipated expense of the trip could jeopardize its participation.
Members of the Gurnee-based Cheer & Dance Xtreme senior level team have until Sept. 15 to come up with an estimated $2,500 each to cover costs for airline tickets, hotel rooms and meals for the November holiday performance.
And most of the coed team's 23 members don't have the money, which totals more than $57,000, team owner Stacey McKie said. They can't even afford partial deposits.
To reach the mark, the cheerleaders -- who come from across Lake County and southeast Wisconsin -- have held several fundraisers, and the final two are this month.
A yard sale is scheduled for Friday and Saturday at the team's headquarters, 122 Ambrogio Drive, Unit A, Gurnee. And an art party is planned for Aug. 26 at the same site.
The teens already have sold popcorn and raffle tickets and washed cars for cash, but so far the team has raised only about $1,700.
"If we don't raise enough cash and athletes are not in a position to fund the expenses of the trip, those particular athletes unfortunately and sadly will not be able to attend," McKie said.
McKie received an invitation from the parade's producers, Spirit of America Productions, in late May. It was a complete surprise, McKie said.
"We did not fill out an application or anything," she said.
A Spirit of America representative couldn't be reached for comment.
Team members were "beyond excited" about the opportunity but were concerned about the cost of the trip, McKie said.
McKie would like all 23 members to participate. But so far, only six have put up $400 deposits, she said.
"The remaining 17 athletes have not been able to pay anything toward the trip at all," she said.
The squad's fundraising goal is $55,100, McKie said.
"Realistically we are hoping to at least raise half that amount," she said. "Then each athlete would be responsible for the other half."
Cheerleader Jacalyn Gonsalez got a summer job at a Gurnee Chick-fil-A restaurant to pay for her trip. She's been helping to coach cheerleading, too, and has raised about $1,500.
"I'm close," said Gonsalez, 18, of Grayslake.
The thought of leaving team members behind is heartbreaking, Gonsalez said.
"When you're part of a team, it's basically your second family," she said. "We would really like (them) there to have that experience with us."
The yard sale at the team's facility will run from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. each day. Clothing, shoes, household products and other items will be available.
McKie billed the Aug. 26 art event as an "art rave." Between 6 and 8 p.m., attendees will paint and socialize in a casual setting.
Tickets are $45 each and go on sale Monday. People must be 21 or older to attend.
Proceeds from both events will help fund the cheerleaders' expenses. Any parents who attend will cover their own costs, McKie said.
"Right now we are hoping and praying that each athlete on the senior team would be able to have the opportunity to go," she said. "The priority right now is the team."
In addition to the two fundraisers, the team is accepting donations. They can be mailed to: Cheer & Dance Xtreme, 122 Amborgio Drive, Unit A, Gurnee, IL 60031.