ORANGETOWN, N.Y. -- Thirty-two Orangetown girls have cheered their way to the National Championship in Orlando, Florida at the ESPN Wide World of Sports taking place Tuesday, Dec. 6.
The Orangetown Patriots, a competitive cheer team in the pop Warner League, recently placed second at the eastern Region Championships to advance to the National Championship, said Coach Karen Paletta.
The team, which includes 13 first-year cheerleaders and 19 returning cheerleaders, also includes several members with interesting stories.
One member had a liver transplant and the cheerleading team is the first group activity she has taken part in since the operation, Paletta said.
In addition, the team mascot suffers from Rett Syndrome which prevents her from speaking, but she shows her team spirit through plenty of smiles, and one of the team moms was recently diagnosed with Stage 3 colon cancer.
"We have dedicated our season to her and her daughters," Paletta said. "Our game bow have the blue colon cancer ribbon symbol and several of the lines in our cheer signify our commitment for them and each other."
While practicing and getting ready for their big trip, the girls have come up with a special cheer for the competition that says it all:
"Together forever, there is no doubt, spread the love, spell it out H-E-A-R-T. Joined together we are OTP, united as one, we can't go wrong....O'Town.....One heartbeat strong."