For as long as can be remembered, the relationship between the Chiefs and the military has been paramount to this franchise. The 2012 season is no exception and it recently manifested itself in a trip to the Pacific Northwest. Throughout the year, the Chiefs Cheerleaders have the distinct honor of visiting local military bases as well as national and international bases to show appreciation for the men and women and their families who sacrifice so much while serving our country. Recently Chiefs cheerleaders Hayley and Dionne visited the Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington.
“One of the great things about being a Chiefs Cheerleader is spending time with our military,” Stephanie Judah, Chiefs Cheerleader Director, commented. “For Hayley and Dionne to have the chance to travel to Seattle to thank the men and women who serve our country is an incredible opportunity that I know they cherished.”
The girls flew out to the base on Thursday and spent the weekend learning about life on a military base.
“We were able to learn about our military on a new level and see how much effort and training goes into keeping up on their jobs to ensure our military is at its best,” second year veteran Hayley said.
They were welcomed to the base with tours and a unique challenge.
“We got a tour of the whole facility and were actually able to go inside of a Chinook (a CH-47 helicopter) and sit in the cockpit,” second year veteran Dionne noted. “Our tour guide explained everything from mechanicals to how to jump out of it for search and rescue. It was incredible to learn about everything their jobs entail.”
They also toured the police and fire department on base, where they were challenged to put on the firemen’s gear in less than a minute.
“At the fire station we got to get dressed up in the full firefighter suit everything from the pants, the boots and the hat,” Dionne commented. “We had to put it all on under a minute, it was difficult but we did it! They showed us their routine and let us ride with them through the base with the sirens and lights on. It was really fun experiencing what they would do in case of an emergency.”
As a way to give back, they had two calendar signings, one at the McChord Air Force branch and another at the Lewis Army branch, as well as a chance to spend an evening bowling with the families of the service.
“The signings were on opposite ends of the base,” Dionne explained. “When we arrived, there was already a line formed and Chiefs fans had huge posters, were decked out in Chiefs gear and some people even had Chiefs tattoos. They were so welcoming and happy to see fellow members of the Kingdom.”
After the tours and the signings, they decided to indulge in some fun and spent an evening bowling with the families at the base.
“The bowling night was split into two groups,” Hayley said. “First, we bowled with some of the men who worked on the helicopters, many of whom were avid Chiefs fans. Then we bowled with some families from the base. One family was originally from Kansas and diehard Chiefs fans! Their daughter, Krissy, is terminally ill, so it was amazing being able to share a special night with them.”
The girls were thrilled to know that their visit to the base lifted the spirits and raised morale of the service members and their families.
“Everyone we met was extremely grateful and excited that we were there visiting them,” Hayley commented. “It was an unbelievable experience and I’m very thankful we were able to visit.”
Joint Base Lewis-McChord has invited the cheerleaders every year and the girls are always delighted to be a part of the weekend activities. Several military bases around the world have also invited the Chiefs cheerleaders for visits.
“We also have the unique opportunity to visit our troops overseas,” Judah said. “This January, we will be sending cheerleaders to Japan and Alaska for military tours. In 2011 and early 2012, we did tours to Iraq and Kuwait. These were very special tours and we were honored to have participated.”