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    CHEER SF: The World’s Favorite Charitable Cheerleaders, Homegrown in San Francisco

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    By Nguyen “Win” Pham

    Based in San Francisco, CHEER San Francisco was founded in 1980 as the world’s first LGBT-identified cheerleading team in history. An all-volunteer nonprofit organization, CHEER SF’s mission is to inspire, entertain and amaze audiences through powerful performances, challenging others to be their best, and supporting organizations that strengthen our communities. Now in its 34th anniversary year, the CHEER SF organization currently comprises nearly 60 volunteers of all ages and orientations who serve both performing and administrative roles.

    CHEER SF provides dynamic and spirited ways to channel people’s philanthropic energies into athletic displays. Those who find themselves drawn to CHEER SF’s charitable affiliations find a wonderful means of learning and cultivating gymnastic, acrobatic, and dance performances. By contrast, those attracted to CHEER SF’s incredible, gravity-defying cheerleading performances enjoy the feel-good factor of leveraging their athleticism to raise monies for charitable causes. CHEER SF’s profoundly deep culture of inclusion, acceptance, and betterment instills a keen sense of belonging into each of its volunteers; and this family-oriented culture has shown to be among what CHEER SF’s volunteers value the most.

    cheersf2As CHEER SF is an entirely volunteer-run organization, the team is led by an array of professionals and community members from all walks of life. CHEER SF volunteers include teachers, nurses, attorneys, engineers, students, and retail workers. Not only is there a wide distribution of ages and ethnicities, but there is also a healthy balance of sexes and genders. When one looks at the individuals who comprise this unique team, as well as at the people who take great care in overseeing team operations, one will see unmistakable diversity.

    The team has been fortunate enough to enjoy some amazing highlights through the years:

    • CHEER SF is distinguished as the only cheerleading team to have appeared at all eight Gay Games.

    • CHEER SF is the first American cheerleading team to have performed in Singapore (2002).

    • In 2010, CHEER SF performed on live primetime TV as a Top 48 contender in NBC’s America’s Got Talent: Season 5.

    • In 2011, CHEER SF was booked to open for Britney Spears at her mini-concert in San Francisco for ABC’s Good Morning America.

    • In 2012, CHEER SF became the first charitable cheerleading team in history to perform at a World Series Victory Parade with the SF Giants MLB team.

    This Friday, June 27, CHEER SF marks another victory. At 7pm, executives from the Alisa Ann Ruch Burn Foundation (AARBF), a California-based non-profit dedicated to preventing burns and fires and to providing services to burn survivors, will receive a check fo  $10,000, enough to send approximately 15 child burn survivors ages 5-16 to AARBF’s week-long residential “Champ Camp.” The check will be presented at Don Ramon’s in SoMA (225 11th @ Howard).

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    In the spirit of corporate social responsibility, CHEER SF is constantly seeking new and more efficient ways to partner with corporations and to support community beneficiaries. For example, beginning in 2011, CHEER SF became the first nonprofit charitable athletic organization to be granted an exclusive and high-profile Community Stage at the annual San Francisco LGBT Pride Celebration, a festival that attracts upwards of 500,000 people from all over the world. Due to construction in the mid-Market neighborhood, there will not be a CHEER SF Stage at the Celebration this year, but CHEER SF will be performing on the Main Stage both Saturday and Sunday, and will be up front in the Parade line-up just behind the opening Women’s Motorcycle Contingent. Outside of the Main Stage shows, CHEER SF has scheduled performances at various street intersections throughout the Celebration (Civic Center) both days to get up-close-and-personal with festival-goers. This year will be bigger and better than ever for CHEER SF’s performing and for its charitable fundraising.

    By the time CHEER SF heads out this August to Cleveland/Akron, OH, for Gay Games IX (CHEER SF is still the only cheerleading team to have appeared at all Gay Games in history), the organization will have met and exceeded its $300,000 milestone in lifetime donations generated and distributed to partner nonprofit beneficiaries. This is not too shabby for an entirely volunteer-run group of athletes!

    Nguyen “Win” Pham is Director of Communications for CHEER San Francisco. Win urges “SF Bay Times” readers to stay in touch with the world’s favorite charitable cheerleaders by visiting Facebook, facebook.com/CHEERSanFrancisco, and Twitter @CHEERSF