by Cherylann Taramykin
Cheerleaders have been given a bum rap. From Grease’s detestably ditsy Pollyannaish Patty Simcox, to the ironically popular mean girls in Can’t Buy Me Love, A Cinderella Story, and even Glee, cheerleaders have become pop culture icons of empty-headed cruelty and narcissism. Julie Bolton of Lake Mary hopes to change that stereotype.
Julie founded Cheer for a Cause (CFAC) in 2010. The organization’s mission is to unify the cheer world through volunteer projects and fund-raising efforts that will have a positive impact on communities. Julie lives by the mantra, "Our lives change as we change the lives of others." She instills this value in the youths she coaches, and has elevated it to a global outreach effort.
Cheer for a Cause aptly held its inaugural fund-raising event in Lake Mary. The Lake Mary Dolphins, a team of cheerleaders ages 5 -10, collected donations for the Susan B. Komen Foundation at a football game in October. The event was welcomed with enthusiastic support − even the football players and coaches donned pink to raise awareness.
Since then, Cheer for a Cause has held events throughout the country. They teamed with ACE Showcase in Alabama to raise funds for a kidney transplant for cheer coach Matt McCallum, and partnered with Midwest Cheer Elite in Ohio to raise funds for a cheer family that was involved in a car accident on the way to competition (the crash killed the mother and injured four other passengers.) At home in Lake Mary, they partnered with Shine Athletics in support of the Aubrey Wood Scholarship Fund for underprivileged youth in Central Florida who would like to cheer. CFAC recently began fund-raising for Peyton’s Promise, an organization supporting families journeying toward adoption. While these spotlight events are held monthly, the CFAC calendar is peppered with smaller, more localized efforts taking place throughout the United States, Canada, Latin America, Europe, Asia, and Australia.
Julie knows firsthand that there is so much more to cheerleading than the stereotype Hollywood has perpetuated. She dedicated 11 years to the communities of Lake Mary and Sanford as a head coach with Pop Warner and American Youth Football/Cheer. Her company, Coach Julie Cheers, produces cheerleading training DVDs that are endorsed by the National Cheer Safety Foundation. And she currently coaches an American Youth Cheer squad of girls, age 5-10, and a co-ed high-school team. “Cheerleaders are true athletes,” Julie says. “The discipline and training required of today’s cheerleader is on par with that of competitive gymnasts.”
In fact, Julie looks forward to the day when cheerleading is approved as an Olympic sport. Until then, Julie is taking matters into her own hands, showing the world by example that cheerleaders are athletes of substance, who are aware, compassionate, and empowered.
Visit Cheer For A Cause for more information.
Cherylann Taramykin is a writer for Lake Mary Life. This article was originally published in the March/April 2011 issue.
Lake Mary Life Magazine is the premier lifestyle publication in the Lake Mary area, dedicated to publishing positive and uplifting stories about our community. Lake Mary Life is a partner of GalTime Orlando.