Read Full Article... By Lisa D. Welsh www.CHEERMaD.com Lisa D. Welsh Ten months ago when I launched CHEERMaD I was so excited to be able to bring something new and fresh to cheer moms and dads. I spent my summer nights working until 3 a.m. writing so that my days were free to attend to the needs of my kids, household and other work. As more and more people started reading CHEERMaD, more and more opportunities presented themselves and the time spent between family and blog became less defined and started to blur together. My goal was to have 10,000 “hits” on my website in the first year; I reached that in the first weeks. Within four months Certifiably CHEERMaD had more than a million unique hits. The support from the cheer industry by way of Andre Carter of Spirit Post, King Harrison of FierceBoard and Shane Womack of Inside Cheerleading magazine, was nothing short of miraculous as they were some of the first to reach out to CHEERMaD. I was honored and at the same time, as a former reporter with marketing and public relations experience, I knew I had hit upon something. As Andre told me, “You’ve done what no one else in the cheer industry has been able to do. Capture and retain the attention of cheer parents.” There were outlets for event producers, gym owners, coaches and athletes but nothing for those who supported the sport with their time and money. As a cheer parent myself, I knew this was true. I represented the 99 percent of cheer moms and dads who pay the tuition, drive our kids to practice on time, coordinate the needs of the non-cheering family members with travel to comps throughout the region (and for some, the country), have jobs, take care of other family members and try to have a life of our own (ya, right). We aren’t the crazy parents that are in the media, we are too busy juggling and balancing everything to get into trouble. No, we aren’t crazy but we are CHEERMaD~Cheer Moms and Dads and the idea of Certifiably CHEERMaD was born. What I wanted to do more than anything with CHEERMaD was to give back to those who give so much to the cheer industry and I felt I was qualified to do it. As a professional journalist for 20 years most of it writing for a New York Times owned daily newspaper, I also had a lot of experience in the discipline of daily writing. Becky and Rachel's teams both won CHEERSPORT 2011 I also thought I might have a little wisdom to share as a cheer mom. Becky, now a coach, started cheering in Allstars 11 years ago at the second gym in the state to introduce a brave new concept: cheering for no other team; cheering for the sake of cheering; a competitive team in itself. I’ve been a team parent, booster president, fundraising chair and unofficial public relations director in various capacities at the three gyms where Becky cheered. Becky and I, circa 2003 I have watched the sport and my daughter grow. I’ve seen first hand how dedication, discipline and determination can help a little girl blossom into an amazing young woman. And I’ve been amazed as competitions moved out of high school gyms and into regional arenas. When Rachel, 10, started cheering again last year, I became a Cheer Mom x2. She had been on a tiny tots team when she was three and had a false start in All Stars when she was seven (which was fine with me as I added up all the costs and multiplied them by two). But last year, I couldn’t keep her out of the gym. ShowStoppers 2011-2012 at CHEERSPORT this year they won their jackets and were the second highest scoring team out of 1,000 Already, Rachel has had a much different Allstar experience from her sister. While Becky didn’t win a Nationals competition until her fourth year as an Allstar, During Rachel first year she won nine out of 11 Nationals competitions (including CHEERSPORT), seven as Grand Champs. The 2011-2012 season isn’t over yet as Rachel’s team will finish in a couple of weeks defending it’s standing as the USASF highest ranked youth level 2 team in the country at the International All Levels competition on April 21. The ShowStoppers received jackets and the second highest score at CHEERSPORT this year and has won every competition, most as Grand Champs, except NCA-Dallas where they placed second by .07 points. To maintain this level of commitment, I surely was CHEERMaD and I knew others were out there like me. When we launched the Certifiably CHEERMaD contest at beginning of competition season, I learned just how right I was. I asked cheerleaders to send in stories of what made their parents “Certifiably CHEERMaD.” The entries were funny, moving and more than anything examples of the great love these parents had and the extent to which they would go to support their kids. During the season, six finalists were chosen and I’m happy to announce the three entries that will move into First Place standing (because as we know in cheering there are more than one Nationals competition and therefore can be multiple First Place winners). All entries can be read on the CONTESTS page. Congratulations to Tina Stockton, Finalist No. 3, whose daughter Ashlie wrote so lovingly of how Tina scheduled her brain surgery around competition season; Laura Dougherty and Lisa Garvin, who share the position of Finalist No. 4 just as they’ve shared so much over the years when their friendship moved beyond the cheer gym even when their daughter’s Tori of Maryland Marlins and Kalee of Cheer Athletics ended up on competing teams; and Major Benjamin Smith who traveled 7,000 miles from Afghanistan to surprise his seven-year-old daughter Shaeli at her first competition. Sarah Gardner calls herself CHEERMaD's No. 1 fan and is one of the Certifiably CHEERMaD judges who will be in attendance at the Cheer Parents Party. As First Place winners, they have received $250 travel vouchers and are now being judged by our distinguished panel of CHEERMaDs for selection of the Grand Prize of the Cheer Cruise and Beach Camp. The Grand Prize will be announced at the Cheer Parents Party hosted by CHEERMaD at the Swan and Dolphin Resort at Walt Disney World on Friday, April 27. This is the only event developed exclusively for cheer moms and dads and we have put together an amazing night to celebrate our shared Certifiably CHEERMaDness. The party is open to CHEERMaDs by registering on the Cheer Parent Registration Tab at www.CHEERMaD.com. The event if free but Buttons must be worn for admittance. Space is limited and your Button is guaranteed only by registering on this site. After registering, pick up your Button at the CHEERMaD booth during the Cheer and Dance Expo at the Swan and Dolphin Resort at Walt Disney World during regular Expo hours: April 26 Noon ~ 8 p.m. April 27 2~10 p.m. The Cheer Parent Party Hosted by CHEERMaD will be held from 8 to 11 p.m. April 27, 2012 in the Ausprey Ballroom at the Swan and Dolphin Resort at Walt Disney World.