Challenged at the beginning of the season to come up with a cause to support, Rose was a little overwhelmed at first.
“My first thought was, ‘Oh my gosh, how am I going to narrow it down to one thing?’ With three different hobbies that I’ve done, I’ve been involved with a lot of different charities through competing in pageants and being a titleholder and then being involved in Colts Cheer, we have so many different opportunities to be involved.”
But when she really thought about it, one opportunity stood out.
“What really spoke to me was an experience I had many years ago when I was a senior in high school. There is a place up in Northern Maine called Camp Sunshine, it’s a retreat camp for children that are terminally ill and their families.”
It’s a place for them to enjoy time as a family - separately and together.
“They have a full medical staff that’s around all the time and the parents get to go off and do their own things throughout a good portion of the day. It’s a chance to relax and a chance for the families to forget about all the stress that they go through on a daily basis.”
It’s staffed entirely by volunteers and for Rose, it was an honor to go and serve as a counselor.
“My high school used to take a trip and I was selected as one of the students who got to go. It’s a small group of seniors that go every year,” she said. “I got to dress up in one of their mascot costumes. I was Chippy the Chipmunk and I got to welcome the families when they arrived in this giant chipmunk costume. I’ve never received so many hugs from little kids.”
Years later, that joy has stayed with her.
“People say that Disney World is the happiest place, but I still to this day have never felt so much joy as I did when I was there. It was incredibly heartwarming to see the families that were there and to listen to the kids and their experiences.”
For Rose, it put things in perspective.
“Being there when I was a senior, it really hit home how much I valued my family and how much I valued the people around me as a whole. I have been blessed with a fairly healthy family and putting myself in their shoes, I wanted them to be able to experience the most joy that they could.”
And doing so brought her joy.
“Part of the reason I became a Colts cheerleader was to bring cheer and joy and excitement and positivity to people. Through Camp Sunshine – it says it in the name – you think of sunshine and you think of happiness. Everyone there was so happy, whether they were going through an illness or whether they were a volunteer. Being able to spread that and knowing that eight or nine years later, I still remember the smiles on these kids’ faces.”
Sharing her experience and hearing about those of her teammates brought something new to the squad this year.
“We were at practice and you could hear everyone talking about their ideas and it was really interesting,” she said. “We always talk about the impact we make in our community and I think when you break it all down and you come up with 26 different ideas of really strong ways to do that, it shows the heart of our team and why we do what we do. And I think that in itself is really powerful.”