Reunited and it "Cheers" so Good!
Sweethearts for Soldiers
In recent years, cheerleaders have been a staple of troop entertainment, but even more so after the events of 9/11. As the number of troops overseas increases, the number of entertainers picked to bring a touch of home to them has also increased. Multiple teams around the NFL have “show groups”, a select group of girls picked to travel and raise the morale of men and women stationed around the world through a modern day version of a “Bob Hope” variety show. Former Cardinals cheerleader Bari Yonkers was one of these lucky girls. When Bari was a member of the Arizona Cardinals Cheerleaders she was voted Captain of the Showteam and got to travel to the Middle East and the Mediterranean. However, this was not Bari’s first time entertaining the troops. She had also been a member of the all star group “Cheerleaders of America” and in 2002 traveled to 19 countries raising the spirits of thousands of men and women in uniform.
Having seen all she did on tour Bari wanted to continue to give back to the troops even after she retired from the NFL. While on her last troop tour with the Cardinals she had an idea! Why not produce a calendar specifically dedicated to the troops and get former NFL cheerleaders who have the same passion to be the models. And the “Sweethearts for Soldiers” charity calendar was born.
When Bari returned home from her tour she contacted her best friend, NFL gal pal and graphic designer, Tonya Helman and they went to work. Five weeks later the calendar was shot!! The calendar itself was produced from the donation of sponsors and three calendars later the Sweethearts for Soldiers Organization have 20 Sweethearts represented from 7 different NFL teams. The coolest part about the Sweethearts is that everyone is a volunteer and every Sweetheart has a connection to the military.
Since their inception in 2006, the Sweethearts for Soldiers have evolved from just a charity calendar to a charity calendar and a 90 minute variety show. To date the “Sweethearts” have traveled to Iraq, Kuwait, Qatar, Ft. Irwin, McChord Air Force Base and have partnered with the Wounded Warrior Project, Operation Homefront, Snowball Express and the VetTix Organization. They also get really cool presents donated to them to take over to the troops on their tours. These giveaways have included sunglasses from WileyX, Starbucks Coffee, AZ Diamondbacks gear; autographed pictures form athletes, and make-up and jewelry for the ladies!!
The Sweethearts for Soldiers organization is always accepting applications. The requirements: must be a former NFL cheerleader with a STRONG passion for supporting the troops and a year long commitment is required. If you are interested you can contact Bari at Bari@sweetheartsforsoldiers.com
Please visit their website www.sweetheartsforsoldiers.com