BOONVILLE — More than 30 cheer leading groups came together on Saturday, not to compete with one another, but to cheer for one of their own in a special cheer leading exhibition. On Jan. 26, then 5-year old Kira Bray was with her family on the way to a cheer leading competition in Boiling Springs when the family was involved in a car accident. Parents Sherry and Joel Bray both sustained serious injuries in the accident. Kira suffered multiple injuries and is still hospitalized at Levine Children’s Hospital in Charlotte.
“In cheer leading, your cheer family, they are your family,” said April Holleman. “All these girls and boys, they are like our own children so when something happens, it hits hard. It hits home.”
Holleman and her husband Neil own the Extreme Spirit Allstars cheer leading organization of which Kira Bray is a member. While many fundraisers have been planned to aid the family with medical expenses, the Hollemans said it was important for them to do a cheer-based event because “Kira loved cheer leading.”
The event was originally scheduled to be held at Starmount Middle School, but Holleman said they outgrew that space within a week and had to move to the larger gymnasium space at Starmount High School. The stands were nearly full with cheerleaders, parents, friends and spectators.
“We have some amazing talent here from all over the state of North Carolina,” Holleman said. Teams paid a registration fee to participate and spectators paid admission, all of which will be donated to the family. Concession stand food, t-shirts, hair bows and other accessories were also available for purchase, with all proceeds benefiting the Brays.
Tiffany Smith from Advance, NC is a representative for 31 Gifts and also a cheer mom with another team. She was at the competition the day of the Bray’s accident and her daughter’s cheer team had become friends with the children from Extreme Spirit Allstars. Smith was raffling off a bag and also donating a portion of her sales to benefit the Brays.
“We’ve gone all out to try to help and do all we can because I hope they would do the same if it was my daughter,” Smith said.
Over the past few months a variety of local businesses, friends and family have organized fundraisers and still have additional events scheduled for the coming months. Pink and purple have been popular colors for bracelets, t -shirts and candles being sold to benefit the family. Pink and purple are Kira’s favorite colors according to mom Sherry Bray.
Last year was Kira’s first year on the Extreme Spirit Allstars cheer team where she was a youth level 1 all star cheerleader and a all star hip hop senior level 1 dancer. Sherry Bray said that Kira loves signing and dancing. Her favorite musicians include Nicki Minaj and Luke Bryan and her favorite food is cheese pizza.
Sherry Bray described her daughter as “a very sweet little outspoken girl, full of life and always happy” with a “million dollar smile.”
In her welcome to the participants and spectators at Saturday’s exhibition, Holleman called Kira, “a little girl that changed so many lives” and who “has a smile that brightens every room.”
In a tearful message for Kira, Holleman said, “We love you more than words can say and we’re behind you all the way. You’ve inspired us and taught us to love whole heartedly, to laugh from the bottom of our souls and to see the blessings lurking around every corner, even in the most inconspicuous places.”
Holleman also thanked supporters and said, “We are humbled by your generosity of spirit and your compassion for Kira and her family.”
“There’s a lot more to cheer leading that just cheering,” Holleman said. “These girls are family. We’re all in different colors but we are one team. We’re team Kira today.”
For additional details about upcoming fundraisers supporting Kira Bray, contact Regina Adkins at 336-466-1458 or Stephanie Hollbrook at 336-452-9320. A Facebook page also has been set up where friends and supporters can share information regarding the upcoming fundraisers for Kira. The Facebook page is https://www.facebook.com/pages/Upcoming-fundraising-events-for-Bray-Family/403014276501589.
Kitsey E. Burns can be reached at 336-679-2341 or on Twitter @RippleReporterK.