The Marshall High School Cheerleading squad were given extra incentive to raise their red pom-poms last Friday after receiving a grant and t-shirt donations from the faith-based outreach organization People for New Directions and Bottom Nail Salon.

An afternoon ceremony took place at Marshall, 3250 W. Adams. The cheerleaders have been without new uniforms for nearly 10 years.

“After my first year here, I began feeling as though it was time that we begin to reach out to those in the community to support the funding of new uniforms and travel equipment for the cheerleaders of Marshall,” said Kim Kirksey, Marshall High School’s cheerleader coach. “However, as my second year concluded, I knew it was time to put the dream into motion.”

Kirksey, along with Lois Hayes, a fellow cheerleader coach, began fundraising and sending out flyers to fellow alumni who also looked to reinvent the cheerleader’s look.

“I found out about their need a few months ago when I read the article about their fundraising in the ‘Austin Weekly News’ and decided to get involved,” said Internal Medicine Physician Dr. James Miller. “I got in touch with Mrs. Kirksey, and she told me about what they were doing. I felt if we as former students of this high school did not get involved with supplying these girls their needed uniforms, who will?”

At the time, Miller was organizing his own fundraiser in the form of a May 22 Gospel benefit concert. Approximately $1,000 raised from the concert was donated to Marshall High School to finance the purchase of fall jogging sweats for the cheerleaders.

“The uniforms will be maroon and carry a gold embossed megaphone on the front, surrounded by a saffron letter ‘M'”, Kirksey described. “The new uniforms will allow the girls to have outfits to wear when the temperatures drop and the football teams are playing. Up until last winter, the girls were wearing purchased jogging outfits underneath their uniforms and it was not a good look.”

Bottom Nail Salon, located at 5459 W Chicago Ave, donated more than two-dozen t-shirts to the 15-member cheerleader squad. It was a true labor of love, said Shateila

Parker, Hayes’ niece, and Jackee Blue, owner of the Bottom Nail Salon.

Lois Hayes regrettably passed away in May before she could fully see the fruits of her labor.

“[Before she passed] my aunt told me about what they were doing, and I was able to convince Jackee to sponsor the effort to bring them new t-shirts,” said Parker, a Nail Technician.

The shirts were purchased using funds from other alumni. The shirts were delivered to the school earlier in the week. The shirts are white with gold trim along the collars and sleeves with “Marshall Commandos” written across the left chest.

Tyrone Hayes, Lois’ husband, reflected on what he calls “a morale-raising event” for the school.

“I attended Marshall from ’84 to ’88 and while I was here, I played all four years on the school basketball team and baseball team,” Hayes said. “I know the sense of school pride

it gave me and how important it was to my wife, and Mrs. Kirksey and Dr. Miller to allow the cheerleaders to go to camp, and to get new uniforms.”

Their effort, though, is far from over. A total of $3,000 is still needed to finance the rest of the cheerleaders’ accessories, including new shoes, and duffle bags for their pom-poms.

Nevertheless, the girls will be attending the cheerleader camp for the first time in several years, learning routines, conditioning tactics and workout regimens at Gwendolyn Brooks College Preparatory High School. The camp started Wednesday and concludes on Friday.