Last week, 94 cheerleaders ranging in age from four years old through their late 20s became the latest additions to — a Stamford-based community service group whose projects range from soup kitchens to fundraisers to a well-established coat drive, all with the simple goal of helping people in need in their community.
“When I began Backyard Humanitarian two years ago, I had three people. It grew to 300 members and now, with the addition of Gold Coast, it’s 400,” Angela Malizia told the teams at Gold Coast. “I think you know what happens when a team comes together, you accomplish more than you ever could alone. After today, we’re one team.”
The kick off event with Backyard Humanitarian brought all of the teams together at their gym, a rare moment to visit with friends between their hectic practice schedules.
“They work so hard. This gives them an opportunity to see that regardless of how busy they are with school and with cheerleading, there’s always time to give back,” Stacey Friedlander, co-owner of Gold Coast, said.
With six national titles and three grand championships so far this season, the teams are off to an amazing year.
“We felt this was the perfect compliment to celebrate how fantastic our season has been,” Friedlander said.
“The owners want our girls to be athletes, but also good community members,” Robin Hartnett, who has two daughters on the Gold Coast All Stars teams, said.
Gold Coast’s first project with Backyard Humanitarian has been to organize a toiletry drive for at , formerly Saint Luke’s Lifeworks.
“It means so much for people entering our housing to know that they can brush their teeth and wash their hair,” Elaine Osowski, program manager at Inspirica, said. “Some of these will go to the children in our programs so it’s really an opportunity for peer-to-peer impact.”
The Gold Coast cheerleaders will continue to collect toiletries for Inspiraca through the middle of April and look forward to participating in future projects with Backyard Humanitarian.
“I was so touched, a girl just came up to me and asked, “How can I help? I’ve always wanted to help people.” I asked her how old she was, she’s ten,” Malizia said. “It’s nice knowing that this resonated with her.”