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North Salem Cheerleaders Cheer For a Cause

NORTH SALEM, N.Y. - Three students from North Salem will be part of a cheerleading team at a February fundraiser to benefit Jaxxon Reed, a 12-year-old boy with a rare form of childhood cancer.

The three girls, Maria Sweeney , 14, Allysa D’Amico , 12, and Taylor D’Amico , 10, attend competitive cheerleading classes at Champion All Stars in Danbury. Champion has recently opened another gym on Route 100 in Somers.

The girls go to practice sessions three times a week. Each session lasts up to three hours. “It’s physically hard but everyone loves it,” said Maria Sweeney, who started cheerleading in the third grade at PQ. “You get tired, but you do it for Jaxx. We feel like, if he could survive, so can we.”

Jaxxon Reed was diagnosed with neuroblastoma, a malignant brain tumor, in late 2006. The Champion cheerleading teams have been performing at fundraisers for Jaxx and his family for the last four and a half years. Jaxx often comes to watch. “It’s fun when he comes. He’s happy to have his own cheerleading team,” said Sweeney.

The North Salem trio is part of a team called Team Jaxx TV Stars. Taylor D’Amico, as the youngest and lightest, performs at the top of the pyramid. She is called a Flyer. “I started in kindergarten,” Taylor explained. “I tried it and I liked it.” What does she think about when she is poised at the top of the pyramid? “I smile and I try not to fall.”

Taylor’s sister, Allysa, a student at North Salem Middle School, acts as her sister’s base. “I used to do gymnastics,” she said, “but I switched to cheerleading and I love it. We do tumbling, jumping, stunting, a pyramid and a dance. It’s a full routine. Our theme is ‘Together We Can.’ It’s a song by the Cheetah Girls.”

“Most people don’t realize that cheerleading isn’t just rah-rah,” added Maria's mother Nancy. “Cheerleaders are athletes.”

Team Jaxx TV Stars has competed in Hartford, Worcester, Baltimore and will be going to Orlando. At the upcoming fundraiser for Jaxx there will be gift baskets, auctions and concession stands, in addition to performances by numerous teams.

The event is scheduled for Sunday, February 19, from 2 to 6 p.m. at Danbury High School. Tickets are $8 in advance, $10 at the door.

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