Chi-Town CATS youth cheer team to compete in world championships in Orlando

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The Chi-Town CATS Chicagoland Cheerleaders are about to compete for the first time on the world stage, with help from the community.

The South Side non-profit team has qualified to compete at the All-Star World Open Championship in Orlando. But with many members from low-income families, the team reached out to the community and city at large for help funding their way to Florida.

"A lot of our team members come from low income families and they don't really have the opportunities," said Nicole Smith-Franklin, assistant director of Chi-Town Chicagoland Cheerleaders.

So over the past few days, team leaders have been collecting donations online in hopes the whole team can attend.

"I was crying when I said I was they said I couldn't go," said Makara Smith, team member. "This is kind of like a big competition for me and I don't like want to miss out on it. "

The organization has entertained local audiences for more than 30 years, but this will be their first time on the world stage.

"We want our girls to be able to see that you can do anything," said Smith-Franklin.

The younger team is called the Kitty Cats.

"Every time we go on stage, my whole crew start shivering and get scared but I just say OK, let's go," said Savanauah Orman, team member.

Team leaders say the goal is to first get them there and then aim to bring home a world title, all while also having fun.

"Winning is really the ultimate goal but like a lot because we're having fun doing the best that we can and," said team leader Novial Adams. "That's the goal."

The team has prepared two routines. This moment, they say, is about sticking the landing, sticking together, and bringing home the gold.

"They love each other, they support each other and we really want them all to go together," Smith-Franklin said.

This morning the group reported they had raise close to $200 of their $5,000 goal. By Tuesday night they had raised more than $20,000.

Smith-Franklin said she's overwhelmed by public generosity, and said this extra money means even more students in need can attend this weekend.
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