VINTON–The William Byrd cheerleaders held their eighth annual Battle at Byrd “Cheer 4 a Cure” competition on October 17, rescheduled from October 3 due to threatening weather.
This year over 30 teams participated in the competition, coming from as far away as Abingdon, Bluefield, Gretna, and Halifax.
Cheerleaders from WBHS and WBMS hosted the competing teams, keeping everything organized and the teams arriving on time in the gym for their performances.
A panel of judges evaluated the required elements—stunts, pyramids, jumps, tumbling, dance, cheer, and overall effect–both in difficulty level and execution. Teams were judged on their level of energy and spirit, whether they stayed within the time limits, and their choreography.
Points were deducted for safety infractions like falls, drops, pyramid collapses, being out of bounds, or exceeding the time limits.
As she welcomed the teams and spectators, WBHS Cheer Coach Dee-Anne Dillon told the crowd that “this is more than just a competition; it’s a fight to find a cure for cancer. We are passionate about doing what we can to find a cure.”
The “Cheer 4 a Cure” competition draws an enormous crowd of spectators each year, packing the gym all day to watch recreation club, middle school, junior varsity, and varsity cheerleading teams from across the region perform their routines. The day begins with the youngest local cheerleading teams and advances to high school competition in the afternoon.
Teams pay entry fees and spectators pay admission to raise funds for cancer research. There are numerous fundraising activities throughout the day including the sale of concessions, t-shirts, and a silent auction.
The first Battle at Byrd was held in 2008 as a way to honor breast cancer victims. Belinda West, a former WBHS cheerleading coach was diagnosed that year. Her husband approached the William Byrd cheerleading Booster Club about holding a competition to raise money to fight the disease.
That first event raised about $5,000. In January 2015 Dillon presented a check for $11,121 to Vinton’s Relay for Life at their kick-off party in January with funds from the 2014 event. The cheerleaders make one of the largest contributors to the Vinton Relay each year.