Thanks to generous donations through a GoFundMe campaign, all members of a competitive cheerleading team on Chicago's South Side can afford to attend the Open Worlds National Cheerleading Championship in Orlando.
The Chi-Town Cats 'Kitty Cats' cheer team had previously qualified for the national cheer competition, but said but a small group would not be able to attend due to the cost of airfare and hotel accommodations.
That changed Tuesday night — two days before the competition — when a GoFundMe campaign asking for $5,000 raised nearly triple that, Chi-Town Cats owner Paulette Franklin confirmed in an email to NBC Chicago.
Thanks so much you guys are AWESOME and God is AMAZING!!!
Prior to raising enough money, the cheerleaders were forced to change the routine which they've been practicing for two months, at the last minute to accommodate for missing athletes.
“We have to change everything you know, we've working on since February," cheerleader Tashaila Forenan said. "Now, we have to change everything to make it work again."
Tuesday afternoon, Franklin said some of the athlete's families could not afford the trip.
"We do have a lot of parents that are struggling and that are working and we have some girls actually going without their parents because they couldn't afford to go with them,” Franklin said.
On the GoFundMe donation page, Franklin said that it was the first time the team made it to competition.
"We would love to go with our entire team," the post read.
According to the GoFundMe page, the campaign was asking for $5,000. As of Wednesday morning, it has raised $22,171.
Chi-Town is a not-for-profit organization under the AAU umbrella, according to Franklin.