Hey there Cardinals fans!
The Arizona Cardinals Cheerleaders show team was lucky enough to be invited back to Fort Hood for the 11th year in a row! Our trip to Fort Hood for the annual Christmas show started very early with a 6AM flight. After a short layover in Dallas, we flew into the Killeen/Fort Hood airport where we were greeted by our AAFES pals. Johnnie, Rick and a few others would be our escorts for the trip, and were very helpful with making sure the luggage for all 14 of us was in the right place at the right time!
Upon arriving at Fort Hood, we went to the Clear Creek PX for a quick lunch. Afterward, we changed into our holiday Santa dresses to spread some cheer around the Fort Hood community. Our first stop was the Wounded Warrior Brigade. Also known as the Warrior Transition Brigade (WTB), this is a program in which wounded soldiers are given the opportunity to recover from illness or injury suffered while serving as members of the U.S. Army. Instead of staying at the hospital for the duration of their recovery, soldiers are able to spend some time at the WTB. We were informed that because many soldiers often suffer from PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) following traumatic injuries, the WTB gives them an opportunity to work on transitioning back into the community. At the WTB, we met the soldiers, signed posters, and posed for photos with the soldiers. The show team was presented with a plaque thanking us for visiting the WTB and providing support to the troops. This was a wonderful honor and I know that we all felt honored to be able to meet some of the wounded warriors.
Our next stop was the III Corps headquarters, where we posed with Santa for a public service announcement. This PSA would be aired on Fort Hood TV; we were able to wish everyone happy holidays on behalf of the Arizona Cardinals. Following the PSA, Coach Heather, Taryn, and I were interviewed on Fort Hood Radio with "DerbMan." We were all able to share a little bit about our experiences with the NFL and what we do outside of cheerleading.
After the interview, we checked into our hotel rooms and went to the theater for the kid's rehearsal. This was one of the most fun parts of the trip, as we all got to work with the kids who would be performing in the show on Friday. Although many of the children's parents are currently deployed and serving overseas, it was awesome to see that they were so excited to be a part of the show. Each of the three groups learned a different dance. To our surprise, this year's largest group was the boys group! After about an hour of rehearsal, we did a show-and-tell so that all the kids could see the other groups' dances. This was our last activity of the day, so we all headed back to the hotel when we finished with rehearsal. Tomorrow looks like a busy and exciting day, and we are all looking forward to putting on our best Christmas show yet!
Gifts in all Shapes and Sizes
December 1-, 2010
Wrapped in material of indescribable sorts and topped with a bow unique of its kind, this trip was one of the best gifts we could have received this holiday season.
Awakening to the sound of the soldier's siren on base, it was time to begin one of our most eventful and meaningful days at Fort Hood. We had the opportunity to eat at the mess hall, dine with soldiers and enjoy a wonderful meal and selection of omelets, pancakes, French toast, amazing fresh fruit, breakfast burritos and so much more. Yet, barely any of our food was touched due to the exciting encounters we shared while dining with the soldiers. Their stories, their dedication, and their service was moving and it was interesting to gain their perspective of all they do for our country. We signed posters for all of those in the mess hall, including staff, took pictures, and were given a certificate for our support of the troops.
Our next stop was Duncan Elementary School located on the Fort Hood base. Soon-to-be nationally ranked for character; these children are gifts to the community and to the nation. Their behavior was outstanding! By age group (pre-school to fifth grade), the kids would either be sitting down in the halls for us to come down and visit for a few minutes, or they would be in the classroom patiently awaiting our encounter. The children were so excited to have us visit that we could feed off of their energy just by walking into the building. In waiting to stop into one classroom, we had an opportunity to read the "Dear Santa" letters that were posted on the wall. Each and every letter was completely self-less, asking Santa to provide for the less fortunate, to save animals that are close to extinction, to bring their loved ones home, and to let the ones serving know that they are the gifts and no other item is necessary to complete their Christmas. From there we visited Smith Jr. High and were greeted by their cheerleading squad. Their team had made up two cheers just for us, performed for us, and allowed us to learn the cheers and perform with them. We, in fact, chanted their words before our show and game and believe it to be our new good luck charm.
From there, we grabbed a quick bite, ran a dress rehearsal, freshened up, and it was show-time. Our 11th Annual Christmas show was a huge success! The audience maxed out the capacity of the auditorium bringing in around 800 people. Our performance was electrifying and the energy of the audience was unmatched. Immediately afterward, we signed more posters and took pictures with all who stopped by including the Jr. Cheerleaders and mini hip hoppers that performed with us. We ended the day with a traditional meal from Little Italy with our contacts who took care of us that entire weekend. They gave us appreciation tokens, but we could not express enough how grateful we were for our experiences in the community and with the troops.
That seventeen- hour day in Fort Hood was jam-packed, but I will forever remember vividly the impact each event left on my life. I feel honored to have been given such a gift.