Cheerleaders raise $$ to attend Nationals

The James Monroe Eagles Cheerleaders; pictured with Metropolitan Soundview HIgh School prinicpal Emarilix Lopez (center), Councilmember Annabel Palma (kneeling left) and Councilmember Andy King (kneeling right) - King, Palma and Assemblyman Marcos Crespo (not pictured) donated a combined $6,000 to help send the team to the UCA Nationals Compeition
Photo Courtesy of Robert Christie

After months of wondering whether they were going to Disney World, the James Monroe Eagles cheerleading team got the funding to realize its goal.

On Friday, January 6, Assemblyman Marcos Crespo, councilmembers Andy King and Annabel Palma presented the cheerleading team a combined $6,000 to send them to the Universal Cheerleaders Association Nationals Competition at the Orlando, FL theme park this February.

The team is made up of students who attend the Metropolitan Soundview High School which is located on the James Monroe Educational Campus.

In September, the group found out they were invited to compete in the national round of the tournament, but then realized they would need a $30,000 sponsorship to attend the event.

“We had a few bake sales, did a cake/cookies/pies fundraiser, and ultimately decided to start our GoFundMe campaign,” said Sonja Williams, one of the team’s coaches.

However, after the team officially received their bid to the Nationals on December 10, the were still very short of their fundraising goal.

“I’m not going to lie,” said Malay’Ja Heard, the senior team captain, “I lost a little bit of hope when I saw we were not receiving enough money to go. It brought tears to my eyes because I know this means a lot to myself and my teammates.”

During the first week of January, the team was featured on TV station PIX 11, afterwhich thousands of dollars began to roll into the team’s GoFundMe account.

“My team – these are like my best friends and my family – they mean everything to me.” Heard said. “And us going to Nationals and being able to get funded to go – and having [everyone] support us – means everything.”

The donations from the elected officials on January 6 put them over their goal.

Assemblyman Crespo said he was proud to have such good representation of the Bronx.

“This is just a joyful day because in the Bronx for far too long we highlight the bad and the negative when our youth are in trouble or they are troubled by things that are happening in our community,” said Crespo.

“We need to celebrate more of these moments,” he continued. “When our young people demonstrate the skills that they have, the commitment that they have, the teamwork for success, the fact that they will be representing not just the Bronx but the entire state of New York down in Florida – and representing New Yorkers and representing who we are and what we’re about – we are proud of this team and we are proud of the coaches and we are proud of [Metropolitan Soundview High School] principal [Emarilix] Lopez.”

King was also excited to be helping out a team from the Bronx.

“I’m delighted and i’m grateful to stand here today to be offering my contribution to make sure that these young people get a chance to go to Florida,” said King.

For Palma, helping the students on the James Monroe Campus holds a personal touch.

“This cause was extremely important to me because I was a student at James Monroe way back when,” said Palma.

“In this case the Eagles make us really proud,” she also said, “to not only represent our district but also represent New York.”

The national-level of the competition, which includes about 20 teams from across the country, begins at Disney World on Saturday, February 11 and runs through Sunday, February 12. View the competition on ESPN and ESPN2.

Reach Reporter Robert Christie at (718) 260-4591. E-mail him at

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