‘This community needs cheer’: Letcher County middle school raising money to replace cheer mats lost in flood

Weekday broadcast of WYMT Mountain News at 6
Published: Sep. 21, 2022 at 6:29 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn
Weekday broadcast of WYMT Mountain News First at Four

LETCHER COUNTY, Ky. (WYMT) - Cleanup efforts continue in Letcher County nearly eight weeks after deadly flooding rocked the region.

“It’s honestly devastating just to see everything that you grew up seeing, it just dissolved. Just washed away,” said eight-grade student Julie Gibbs.

However, one group is hoping to pep up its people.

The Fleming-Neon Middle School cheer team lost most of its equipment to the flood waters.

“Now, we have to drive 10 minutes down the road to go practice,” said Paylon Bolling.

“We don’t know if we’re going to have a practice, we don’t know where our gym is going to be,” said Sarah Richardson.

The flood destroyed cheer mats the team fundraised for years to collect.

“They’re going through devastation. They’re trying to build back after this flood. They’re trying to come back together and trying to push through something horrendous. They’re practicing in nooks and crannies and practicing in grass and on football fields and make-do mats,” cheer coach Sarah Sexton said.

The mats are a requirement for the team to practice and compete. Without them, the girls are only able to cheer from the sidelines, losing their sense of normalcy.

“I just want to compete. The only thing I can think to say is it’s gut-wrenching,” said Kelsi Holbrook.

Now, the team is hoping to raise enough money to get their foundation back.

“I have a wonderful sponsor that’s getting their shoes paid for, and we’ve got uniforms in the process, but nothing yet. Now, they need maps. That’s the big need for them right now,” said coach Sarah Sexton.

The mats could cost more than $5,000 to replace, and several fundraisers are already in place. In the meantime, the award-winning team is still planning to hit the field Thursday night for “Meet the Pirates.”

“This community needs cheer,” said Sexton. “The town needs it. The kids need it.”

If you are interested in donating, you can contact Fleming-Neon Middle School.