Elms Cheerleaders and Athletic Department bring cheer to Wingate nursing home.

(second row; left to right) Malibia Hernandez '17, Casey McBride '15, Kim Nguyen '14, Caitlin Aissis '17 and the rest of the cheerleaders with one of the Wingate residents.

“It was like they were watching magic.”

Casey McBride ’15 has been cheering her whole life, including the inaugural year of the Elms College cheerleading squad in 2012. Until last week she had never performed in a nursing home.

That changed on a cool October morning as Casey brought her white hair bow, green and gold pom-poms, and Blazer spirit with her as the Elms College cheerleading team bounced into the Wingate nursing home to perform for the residents.

In the crowded activities room filled with senior citizens in wheelchairs, a table of carved pumpkins, and pitchers of fresh coffee, the cheerleaders burst in chanting “Go Go Blazers!” The performance included a series of thigh stands, shoulder sits, and a split stunt–a nimble cheerleader doing the splits, legs buttressed on her teammates’ shoulders.

“We had to accommodate for the tight space but we made it work and they loved it,” Casey said.

Afterwards, the cheerleaders interacted with the residents and helped them vote for their favorite carved pumpkins that the staff had meticulously made for the residents.

“They just want someone to talk to and I was happy to be that person,” Casey said. “It’s something that’s so easy for us but it probably made their entire week.”

The trip was coordinated by Ashlee McNamee ’09, head cheerleading coach and adjunct nursing professor, and Colleen Strunk ’07, activities director at Wingate. Colleen contacted the athletics department, hoping to bring in athletes to Wingate to introduce the residents to students of different generations.

“When you’re out in the community you’re around all different types of people, all different generations. But when you’re in a nursing facility, you miss that,” said Colleen.

Colleen hopes to bring in other athletes from her alma mater to interact with the residents while Ashlee will continue to find ways for her cheerleaders to connect with the community.