PATERSON, New Jersey (WABC) -- The city of Paterson in New Jersey held a pep rally Friday the first area cheerleading team to be invited to compete in the International Cheerleading Competition in Disney World.
Mayor Andre Sayegh presided over the event for Flamez Elite, Paterson's first all-star cheerleading team.
"I would never have thought that," captain Yasmine Odeh said. "We're all really excited."
Practice and hard work is what earned the squad the invitation, but they're talented and modest too.
"I'm very confident in my team in winning," cheerleader Lizmary Rodriguez said. "But if we don't, I'm still proud that we got the chance to be on that mat."
These ladies are the underdogs, 36 Cinderellas of the competitive cheerleading world. Flamez Elite was founded during the pandemic, and this is only their first full season.
"They pretty much beat out the every team in their division," co-founder Alexandria Obong said. "And that's why they were offered the invitation."
Being invited is one thing, but paying for the trip is another.
The squad was only able to raise $5,000 of the $35,000 needed to go, but with the team making history, the mayor has their back.
"We want people to help us send our young ladies, our all-stars, to Disney," Sayegh said. "For some of them, this is probably the first time they got a chance to go to Disney World."
Disney-bound or not, these young ladies know this is exactly where they need to be, and that this is exactly what they need to be doing with their time and energy.
"These are my sisters," cheerleader Lyanesty McCall said. "The seniors are my big sisters, the minis are my little sisters."
Head coach Pauline Johes believes they are setting a new standard.
"There's always a lot of negative press when it comes to Paterson," she said. "The main thing, we want to show good things come out of Paterson. These are an amazing group of kids, and now it's to the point, we need help."
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