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Neighbors Growing Together | Jul 16, 2018

Pekin cheerleaders perform at Shrine Bowl

By Bill Gatchel, GTNS Staff | Aug 08, 2017
Photo by: BILL GATCHEL/GTNS photo Lexi Bowen, left, and Chelsea Lanphier represent Pekin High School on the cheerleading squad during the 45th Annual Iowa Shrine Bowl All Star Classic Saturday, July 29, in Cedar Falls.

CEDAR FALLS — Getting to cheer on your local football team may not seem that out of the ordinary, but for two Pekin Panther cheerleaders, they had the chance to do even more than that Saturday, July 29.

Lexi Bowen and Chelsea Lanphier were both nominated by their coach to perform at the Shrine Bowl in the UNI-Dome, but that still wasn’t a guarantee they would be part of the squad.

“We had to go and try out once we were nominated,” Lanphier says, “but only 40 were on the squad.”

The entire cheer squad met for the first time only four days before the event and performed their routines together.

“We had videos to watch online to learn the dances and such,” Lanphier says. “But when it came to the stunts, none of us had done that together before so we started Tuesday.

“That was the toughest thing: learning how some people work with stunts and how some others don’t.”

This was the 45th year for the annual Shrine Bowl. More than $2.3 million has been raised for The Shriner’s Hospitals for Children.

While there were no Pekin football players in the game, the pair were cheering for the South team, and even then, it didn’t matter.

“We’re here to support these kids,” Bowen says, “to raise money for them. They are really such amazing kids. We met some Friday. They are so kindhearted and just so happy and grateful for the Shriners.”

Lanphier agrees.

“They are,” she says. “The idolized us a lot. They wanted to cheer with us. They saw how we took pictures. We’re so happy to be here to do this for them.”

Even though the North team won 30-13, it still came down to the kids.

“The coaches did a really good job of making sure everyone got along,” Lanphier says. “It’s competition, but it doesn’t matter in the end.”

For Lanphier, this was her last time to get to wear the cheerleading uniform for Pekin.

“It’s really kind of bittersweet for me,” she says, “but it feels amazing. Out of all the cheerleaders in the state, there are only 41 of us and to have two from Pekin is pretty awesome.”

Bowen will be a senior this school year, and enjoyed having the chance to represent her school.

“It was really nice,” she says. “I have one more year there and it’s a really great school. I just love saying, ‘I’m from Pekin’ and have people tell me they know where that is. It’s really great.”

Besides memories, there will be something each of them will take away from the events.

“Fundraising and charity is more important,” Lanphier says. “We’re helping that out just by doing something as little as this. I didn’t know how serious it was until I got here. That’s the most emotional part. Even after learning everything, it’s making sure that we know what we’re doing this for.”

“It’s just a great event, helping these kids,” Bowen says. “You just feel grateful for your life. You want to keep helping other people and raising money along with keep fundraising and maybe coming back to this and learning to help others more.”


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