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The Illinois Elementary School Association (IESA) would like to congratulate the Peoria St. Mark cheerleading squad as this year's recipient of the IESA One Team award as selected by the IESA Officials' Advisory Committee. This award is designed to recognize a member school for their leadership in coordinating a service project to positively impact their school or local community.
During the 2015-16 school year, the Peoria St. Mark Marksmen chose to raise funds for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation's Peoria chapter. The cheerleaders chose this organization as the recipient for their fundraising as two students from their school were diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis shortly after birth. In addition to their own squad members, it is clear this was a community-wide effort to promote awareness and to raise funds. Peoria St. Mark cheerleaders sought raffle donations from St. Mark families and staff and sold 50/50 raffle tickets at games. They also sought donations by volunteering to work at the Parish Student Association breakfast, designing Cystic Fibrosis awareness t-shirts and offering students the chance to wear these shirts for $1 during the school day when students would normally be required to wear their school uniforms, and asking the school to donate 100% of ticket and concessions sale from the "Cheer For A Cure" basketball night. Dr. Noreen Dillon, Principal at Peoria St. Mark shared, "This is just one activity that this cheer squad has participated in this year. I am continually impressed at their desire to do what they can for our students and local community. They have also marched in the Santa Parade and volunteered to cheer on and walk in the Buddy Walk for children with Down Syndrome."
In their application for this award, it was noted that the cheerleaders were asked to demonstrate leadership skills in their fundraising efforts - these skills included "communication, self-motivations, working in groups, having a positive attitude, and setting a goal and reaching it." The cheerleading squad had initially set a goal of raising $1,000, but through their determination, they were able to donate more than $1,900 to the Peoria chapter of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.
The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation's mission is to find a cure for all individuals who are diagnosed. "Breakthrough treatments have added years to the lives of people with Cystic Fibrosis. Today, the median predicted survival age is close to 40. This is a dramatic improvement from the 1950s, when a child with CF rarely lived long enough to attend elementary school." More information about Cystic Fibrosis can be found at www.cff.org.
"Giving back to one's local community is definitely a teachable moment for students of this age. As educators, it is our responsibility to instill within students the value of leadership and civic engagement; there is no time that is too early for them to learn the power of their voice and ability to make a difference to those around them," said IESA Assistant Executive Director Leslie Alappattu. "The opportunity for students to come together as one for a cause greater than themselves is a chance that IESA member schools can continue to provide their students. At one time or another, we have all been fortunate to receive the kindness extended by another person or group; we hope this award continues to expose students to selflessness and putting others before themselves."
An assembly was held at Peoria St. Mark on May 19 at 2:45 pm to recognize and honor the coaches and members of the Marksmen cheerleading squad.