RED JACKET — ” A kind gesture can reach a wound that only compassion can heal.” – Steve Maraboli
It has been a week since the rain and wind fell upon Wild and Wonderful. Thousands were left homeless, 23 people lost their lives, and a Federal Disaster has been declared by Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin. Many lives were affected, each one individually stood out as a disaster all it’s own. Neighbors, family, and friends lost everything, even the small things that are over-looked in natural life.
In a sincere and passionate gesture, the cheerleading program of Mingo Central High School (MCHS) has done more than they ever believed possible in an effort to help neighboring schools and communities affected by the flooding that ravaged the West Virginia landscape and the lives of those who cherish sustenance from her love. Everyone , upon witnessing the news, held a heavy heart for those affected by the flooding. That small spark of compassion felt in Mingo County aggregated into an effort that has far surpassed any expectations. Head Cheerleading Coach Wendy Cisco explained the whole experience as “eye-opening,” and “spiritually fulfilling.”
“We all watched the events unfold and we waited for the final totals of just how bad everything was. We all know flooding in this area and we know how bad it can be. We all just wished there was something we could do. The collection efforts began, myself and the girls decided we would do something to. We never dreamed it would become this big and we would get this much support,” said Cisco.
Throughout the week, the MCHS cheerleaders have been collecting supplies and donations at various sites around the community as a medium for others to join the relief efforts. The MCHS Cheerleaders got in contact with the faculty of Herbert Hoover High School located in Clendenin, W.Va. and arranged a meet-up to bring the supplies and donations to a relief station at the school.
The girls were able to gather three trailers worth of supplies to send to the site. from cleaning products, to food, to toiletries, to anything that may help those affected get back into the swing of life.
“This has been entirely volunteer; the girls and the people who have helped have done all of this out of kindness,” said Cisco. Cisco continued by saying, “Everyone here at the school has helped in one way or another; from the faculty to the other sporting programs, to parents, to fans, to just everyone coming together to help support this. I have been amazed at the amount of support we have received from the communities and just everyone.”
The dream of helping everyone was precious, but much like the events that inspired the dream; reality produced adversity.
In short notice, the team realized there was more to do than just collect necessities. They had to acquire transportation for all of the supplies, they had to acquire a bus to transport the girls to Clendenin to help unload the supplies, they had amassed a mountain of responsibility to care for. None of this was easy during the off-season of school.
The MCHS cheerleaders decided to forego the last week of the three week conditioning period and focus their efforts on getting this done.”This was much more important to us, it didn’t seem right to just continue our lives as usual as others stayed in devastation,” said Cisco.
With the help of MCHS Principal Teresa Jones, the team was able procure a bus to transport the cheerleaders to Clendenin, they were able to gather support from the community from individuals who would haul the supplies to the site, and they were able to gather donations from multiple outlets to make sure they had enough funds to get there. The procurement of the bus was a tricky thing to accomplish during the middle of summer when most board of education members were on a break.
Despite adversity, the team was able to pull everything together and head out of Mingo County on a mission early Wednesday morning.
The cheerleaders wanted to give a special thank you to Donald Sanson of Food City for giving them a place to collect supplies and donations in the Williamson area for people who couldn’t make it to the days they collected at Mingo Central High School. A special thank you to Wes Wilson was also in order for his help and support throughout the ordeal. The New Town Church of God gave a sizable donation that needed to be singled out and Danny Michaels and his church organization was helpful in what Cisco called, “So many ways.”
Jokingly, Cisco said the most surprising aspect of the events was that, “the girls haven’t complained once.” The girls left their pom-poms in Mingo County to help lift spirits in the areas affected by the flooding.
The damage created by the storm is not something that can fixed, many people lost everything. The cheerleaders were not able fix the lives of those affected, but they collected enough supplies and donations to make a big difference in the effort to relieve these victims, and they offered the most precious item of all, compassion, time, and effort; they offered love.
(William Plaster is the sports reporter for the Williamson Daily News, he can be reached at 304-235-4242 ext. 2274 or at [email protected] or on twitter @sidplaster)