Cheer Competition Raises Hope and Awareness

Cheer Competition Raises Hope and Awareness

Cheerleaders compete in last year’s Pink Ribbon Cheer Classic. The Youngstown State University’s Zeta Tau Alpha chapter hope to raise $115,000 for breast cancer research and awareness at this year’s competition. Photo by Dustin Livesay/The Jambar.

Cheerleaders compete in last year’s Pink Ribbon Cheer Classic. The Youngstown State University’s Zeta Tau Alpha chapter hope to raise $115,000 for breast cancer research and awareness at this year’s competition. Photo by Dustin Livesay/The Jambar.

For the past several years, Youngstown State University’s Zeta Tau Alpha chapter has hosted the Pink Ribbon Cheer Classic to raise money for a good cause. This year’s event will take place on Sunday in Beeghly Center and will mark the 13th PRCC.

Over the past three years, the event has raised over $100,000 for breast cancer awareness, research and education. This annual cheerleading and dance competition occurs every October during Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Founded in 2001, the event has raised almost $650,000. In 2012 alone, $163,735 was raised. With the last few years proving successful, ZTA is confident they’ll reach this year’s goal of $115,000.

“This event is put on by the ZTA Collegiate and Alumnae chapters of Youngstown,” said Catie Carney, a member of YSU’s ZTA chapter. “For the past 13 years, the sisters — both collegiate and alumnae — of ZTA work really hard all year long to make sure that the PRCC is successful.”

Kim Caputo, the event’s founder, said her love for her sorority sisters and her passion for cheerleading inspired the inception of the PRCC.

“My inspiration was a mix of my two loves: my sorority, Zeta Tau Alpha, and the Liberty cheerleaders, who at the time, I was their head coach. I explained to my cheerleaders that when you are in a sorority, you fundraise for a cause and don’t get to keep the money for personal use,” Caputo said. “The event was a way for me to show them the positive things sororities do while teaching them a life lesson about raising money for a cause.”

Caputo said she’s seen the event grow significantly over the last decade, and she is impressed with local cheerleaders’ spirits.

“The one thing I have found to be the most special is watching and hearing about the different cheer teams in the community thinking pink more than just on the one day of our event. From pink spirit weeks to pink out football games, watching the cheerleaders promote breast cancer awareness in so many different ways is the thing that I have found to be the most important way the event has grown,” Caputo said.

On Oct. 17, ZTA held their 2nd annual Pink Ribbon Cheer Competition, a separate cheerleading competition for student organizations. Proceeds from this event also went to breast cancer awareness and research.

Each organization that participated made up a unique breast cancer cheerleading routine. The winners were awarded a trophy and a free performance spot at the 13th Annual Pink Ribbon Cheer Classic.

“Each year, our chapter has anywhere between 40 to 43 sisters. The amount of money we raise at the PRCC depends on the amount of participants at the event, as well as the generous donations we receive each year from corporate sponsors, such as Fast Signs, YSU Student Government, and Clear Channel Radio,” Carney said.

Throughout the month of October, ZTA has been selling Pink Out Day t-shirts on campus. These t-shirts are to be worn on Pink Out Day, raise awareness and promote the PRCC.

Allison English, a ZTA collegiate member, organized this year’s Survivor Ceremony held during the event. She said that they take pride in honoring the survivors with something that is near and dear to them.

“Every year the PRCC invites all survivors to join us in helping with Breast Cancer Awareness. There is a ceremony during the event that honors the individuals that fought the battle of breast cancer,” English said.

Carney noted that not only is she proud of the work ZTA does for Breast Cancer education and awareness, but she also feels inspired by the Survivor’s Ceremony held every year with the event to honor a particular survivor.

“This is an empowering ceremony, and really shows me how significant of an impact ZTA has on those affected by breast cancer,” Carney said.

Caputo concluded that the event has become a staple in her life.

“Personally, I grew up with this event,” Caputo said. “The event has seen me through college, the death of two close family members, and even my engagement in front of the crowd in 2011. This year, I will be carrying my first child at the event. It is a huge part of my life and it is amazing to share with my ZTA sisters.”

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