Spread The Cheer!
I've been performing since my early high school years. Colorguard, dancing, singing - I loved it all. It wasn't until I moved to Chicago that my whole perspective of performing would change. I was out at dinner with a few friends and we started talking about dance. My friend Katie told me about the Chicago Spirit Brigade. An all-adult, all-volunteer cheerleading, dance and drill team that performed around Chicago to raise money for charity.
I thought, “Why not?” I was looking for an activity to fill that performance gap. At the time, my mind wasn't focused wholly on fundraising - but performing.
I went to tryouts and instantly fell in love. I was surrounded by people that I felt I could really be myself around. We practiced all through the winter months, doing small events here and there, we also went away to camp to perfect our Mega-Routine. As the warmer months approached I was so excited to debut this performance and show off all of our hard-work.
Our first big festival performance was Midsommarfest in Andersonville. We had warmed up, gathered a crowd and started setting up our red spirit (donation) buckets around the edge. I had butterflies - the sun was hot and the crowd was huge! Little did I know that about 12 minutes later, my life was going to change for good.
We did our performance and the crowd went wild! I was on cloud 9. It wasn’t until after we performed that I picked up my red spirit bucket and started walking around to collect donations (We were collecting for Apna Ghar that weekend). To my amazement people were donating left and right! Dropping singles, fives, tens, TWENTIES! Everyone was congratulating us on a wonderful job and donating to such a wonderful cause.
I couldn’t believe I was a part of something that does such beautiful work for the community. People will pay hundreds of dollars for tickets to see a stunning performance - we didn’t charge people to watch us, we simply asked that they donate if they could.
The Chicago Spirit Brigade also offers a unique matching program. For every dollar donated, we match that by 25%. After our performances we donate 125% to our beneficiary for that event. We don’t keep a single dollar for ourselves. Most of our beneficiaries are local charities that do a multitude of things for those in our community who need it most.
To be able to use my dance skills and have such a direct impact on my community was life-changing. I started following more non-profits, aiming my studies at working with non-profits, and completely flipped my goals of being a corporate queen bee to leaving my mark on a non-profit that serves its community most.
I love the Chicago Spirit Brigade, I love giving back to those that need it most, and I love being part of the change I wish to see.
Review from #MyGivingStory