A group of Fort Dodge Senior High cheerleaders will be taking their abilities to a new level this winter when they join some of the top cheerleaders in the nation on a trip to London.
Five members of the varsity squad - juniors Hailee Richardson and Lexi Wilcox and seniors Grant Hendrix, Erin Ruden and Cheyanne Egeland - will represent FDSH on the Universal Cheerleaders Association All-American squad. They will perform with 250 other cheerleaders in the London New Year's parade on Jan. 1, 2014.
Senior Emma Dornath was also named to the squad but has opted not to travel to London.
To be selected as an All-American, cheerleaders must audition at a UCA camp. The FDSH squads attended camp on the campus of Clarke University in Dubuque July 6 to 9. Each potential All-American performs a cheer learned at the camp, their best stunt and a dance learned at the camp.
"You're out there performing with maybe six other cheerleaders in a group in front of the whole camp and the staff," said Egeland. "It can be intimidating."
"I was proud of myself just for trying," said Wilcox.
Six members of the FDSH squad tried out for the squad, with all six being selected. Once selected as an All-American, cheerleaders are given an optional invitation to perform in London.
"We've had All-Americans before and thought, that's cool we could go to London, but we have never done it," said Egeland.
"This year I said it's our senior year, we've got to go," said Hendrix.
"We didn't know if we could actually do it," said Ruden.
The cheerleaders will learn a routine from a DVD and must know it well before arriving in London.
It will cost around $16,000 for the five squad members will be in London Dec. 26 to Jan. 2.
"You're given the opportunity to go, but you do have to do all of your own fundraising," said Richardson.
The five cheerleaders have been working all summer on fundraising, raising enough for their first deposit with an additional $1,000 due Oct. 1 and a final payment on Nov. 1.
"We've had a lot of support from local businesses and restaurants," said Richardson. "We've gotten some donations and done a 50/50 raffle at Amigos Bike Night."
The cheerleaders are planning to hold future fundraisers including additional 50/50 raffles, selling programs at Iowa State football games, bake sales, a fashion show and, perhaps, a car wash.