Applause echoed through the Burt Kahn Court on Jan. 28, as cheerleading and dance teams from different schools performed in the 13th annual Cheer and Dance Challenge. The Quinnipiac Athletic Training Club and the Quinnipiac Acrobatics & Tumbling team prepared the afternoon program.
This year, the event fundraised for several prevalent charities and also for the Kendall Pallone Trust Fund, a fund created for associate athletic trainer Adam Pallone’s daughter, Kendall, who requires medical assistance.
Pallone said his daughter’s life is not like other children’s lives with her condition.
“My daughter was born 11 weeks premature in May 2010, and as a result of her prematurity, she suffered a number of issues with her brain,” Pallone said. “She has cerebral palsy and a condition called Hydrocephalus.”
Knowing all the work this event accomplished for Kendall, Pallone said he is incredibly grateful for the university’s support.
“There are times where I think that what [Kendall] has to deal with in her life is unlucky or unfair, but then I’m reminded how fortunate she is to be connected with Quinnipiac University and how many things that people have done for her here at Quinnipiac have helped her in her life,” Pallone said.
All throughout the day, an array of cheerleading and dance teams from different schools showed off their skills through healthy competition against one another in an attempt to win the grand championship award, all while raising money for Kendall and the charities.
It was a marathon of viewing talented students of all ages presenting their hard work on the dance floor with their flips, kicks, jumps and spins. The Quinnipiac Acrobatics & Tumbling team also exhibited their gymnastic skills to bring out even more excitement from the audience and inspiration to the younger cheer and dance groups.
The schools that won the grand championship in the Cheer and Dance Challenge were Danbury High in Danbury, Connecticut within the cheer division and Walsh Intermediate School in Branford, Connecticut for the dance division.
Athletic trainer and head coach of the Quinnipiac Acrobatics & Tumbling team Maryann Powers said she created the Cheer and Dance Challenge in 2003.
“It is a day of fun, athleticism and charitable giving all rolled into one event,” Powers said in a MyQ announcement on Jan. 24.
Throughout the years, the Cheer and Dance Challenge has supported many notable charities like The Make-A-Wish Foundation and March of Dimes and even came to support the university’s former assistant coach Manny Bonilla, who was in need of medical assistance for his illness.
Senior athletic training major Katie Urycki said this event is special to her and the rest of the athletic program.
“It’s an event we do as an [Athletic Training] program along with Acrobatics and Tumbling team, so we team up together. We have our whole [Athletic Training] program involved so the freshmen, sophomores, juniors, even the senior class all help out,” Urycki said.
Urycki chose to become an assistant director for the event after being approached by a senior last year who thought she’d be good at helping out.
“Of course, I couldn’t say no to such a great cause,” Urycki said.
Powers said despite the event’s inclusion of cheer and dance competitions, the event’s major purpose is about bringing the community together.
“I might have started [the Cheer and Dance Challenge], but it takes other people to keep the ball rolling,” Powers said. “We’re pretty much all in a unified set of mind that there is a purpose for this. The purpose is to make people feel good, and I think you get the best from human experience when you make people feel good.”