New cheer team hoping to raise enough money to compete in nationals

NEWARK, New Jersey (WABC) -- A New Jersey cheerleading team is now hoping this time they can be supported as they try to raise money to compete in nationals.

The Candy Elite All-Star squad are regional champions and are eligible to compete in the nationals in Florida. The only problem - they don't have the money to get there, and need some help.

The middle and high school team from Newark didn't get this far by being soft. Their coach is tough, they practice long and hard - many of them, for the past four years have grown up together.

"I'm closer to my teammates than any of my other friends. Because we're here putting long hours in and being on the team, you have to trust and the trust runs so deep," says cheerleader Jada Brown.

"They feed off of one another. So those quiet ones that come in, they now talk. Those kids who had low self-esteem, they now have confidence. I've seen them bloom and blossom," says Coach Wydeyah Hay.

Last weekend, their dedication paid off. For the first time at the Mid-Atlantic Nationals in Wildwood, New Jersey, they placed in the top three and advanced to the summit cheerleading competition, held at Disney World in May.

"Oh, I'm a cry - I'm a cry and I'm a be like 'oh my god!' because I've been dreaming about this my whole life since I started cheering," said Nahzae Branch.

The problem is, the team does not have the funds to get to Orlando, because they never expected to make it this far. So now, they have a month to scramble.

The team is throwing fundraisers, looking for corporate sponsors, and they also launched a GoFundMe campaign.

"It's definitely going to be a dream come true. They worked hard. They deserved it. They're gonna have fun and be able to do the things they wouldn't be able to do here in Newark. And I just want to see them happy whether we win or lose," said Coach Hay.

In order to win or lose - first they have to be on that stage.

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