South Tahoe cheer team qualifies for national event, needs donations | TahoeDailyTribune.com

South Tahoe cheer team qualifies for national event, needs donations

The South Tahoe Pop Warner Vikings cheer team is good enough to compete nationally, but a lack of money has put the squad in a tough spot.

The cheer team finished in second place recently at a local competition in Spanish Springs, Nevada to qualify for regional event at San Jose State. The girls, ages 9 to 12, again earned a second place finish to qualify for the Pop Warner National Competition in Orlando, Florida.

But with no money in the board's coffer due to previous mismanagement, the girls were forced to miss that event and focus on another one early next year.

Christopher Klug, of South Lake Tahoe, was arrested in May for allegedly embezzling money and leaving the program with bills to pay instead of a surplus that would have helped the girls travel.

The cheer team needed to raise $33,000 to reach the Florida competition, but there was no chance of reaching that amount in a short time. So they are in the process of raising money to compete in January at the Jamz Youth Nationals Competition in Las Vegas. They have raised about $1,700 but need to reach about $7,500 by Dec. 22 to allow for all 14 girls to attend.

The group has reached out to local businesses, have staged fundraisers in front of Safeway and soon plan to host a bake sale, according to coach Chelsea Zermani.

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The girls on the team are Veronica Burgees, Nevaeh Chapman, Kylene Duffany, Callee Gatien, Aarianna Guillen, Veda Hellen, Noelle Lyttaker, Kassandra Orizaba, Elisia Robinson, Morgan Smiley, Akasha Stephens, Trulyana Welechenko, Taylor Whisnant and Alexis Zorn.

"These girls have worked hard all season long to get this opportunity," Zermani said.