Paying It Forward!

LHS cheer team generosity on display at State basketball tourney
By 
Chris Mcconnell
Thursday, March 11, 2021
The Laurel Cheer Team after Laurel’s consolation game win at the State Class A basketball tournament in Great Falls. Back row from the left: Aubrey Spaeny, Hannah Calhoun, Sawyer Oak and Brooklynn Novak. Third row: Assistant Coach Latisha Demarais, Madi Hust, Abby Nagel, Jaida Christmann, Jade Elton and Kayla Reynolds. Second row: Elsa Medina, Oakley Torno, Keira Winchell and Head Coach Christina Holcomb. Bottom row from the left: Tysen Grabbow, Keeli Harris and Trey Holcomb (Laurel Cheer’s #1 fan). Not pic

The Laurel Cheer Team after Laurel’s consolation game win at the State Class A basketball tournament in Great Falls. Back row from the left: Aubrey Spaeny, Hannah Calhoun, Sawyer Oak and Brooklynn Novak. Third row: Assistant Coach Latisha Demarais, Madi Hust, Abby Nagel, Jaida Christmann, Jade Elton and Kayla Reynolds. Second row: Elsa Medina, Oakley Torno, Keira Winchell and Head Coach Christina Holcomb. Bottom row from the left: Tysen Grabbow, Keeli Harris and Trey Holcomb (Laurel Cheer’s #1 fan). Not pictured: Ally Ralph. Outlook photo by Chris McConnell

Laurel High School Cheer Coach Christina Holcomb had a tough winter where she got the coronavirus and is still living with lingering side-effects.

Whenever she has a down day she said she tries to turn it into something positive. She recently came up with the idea to set up a fundraiser on Venmo (a online money transfer app) to raise funds so the cheer squad could eat a nice dinner last Friday during the Class A State basketball tournament and leave a huge tip for the server.

“I set up the Venmo challenge (on the Laurel High School Cheerleading Facebook page) and then surprised my team with it. We posted it and it just took off. Most of the parents chipped in. It was like a snowball effect! I never thought it would turn into what it is now.”

Laurel Senior Madelynn Hust said after Coach Holcomb sprung the idea on the team Friday morning, “Everybody shared the post and then we took a poll where we should eat.”

Senior Keeli Harris said everyone on the team was onboard with the idea. “It’s a huge inconvenience to the servers when we go eat because there are so many of us. By the time we went to the game (on Friday) $400 had been raised, and it kept going.”

They chose to eat at Mackenzie River Pizza Co. in Great Falls and after the bill was paid they had $615 leftover for a tip.

Sophomore Abby Nagel volunteered to hand their server (Dylan) the money and as she did, told him, “We decided to pay it forward to all the people who feed us when we are on these trips,” and handed him the money.

On the video that is posted on the Laurel High School Cheerleading and Laurel Outlook Facebook page, Dylan is heard saying, “No way. Are you guys serious?!? I don’t know what to say. I can’t even tell you how much I appreciate that. I’m going to cry. Thank you so much!”

Keeli said they saw a post where Dylan mentioned he had two children, and Madelynn said he told them it would help with his rent this month.

After the dinner the money kept rolling in so the team decided to buy a gift card for their bus driver, Brian “Santa” Mollenbrink.

The donations are still coming in and team is planning to “pay it forward” to someone in Laurel in the near future.

Coach Holcomb said, “Now we are trying to raise money to bless someone local from Laurel. As a cheer coach it is my job to teach these kids about life, not just cheer. They learned that giving back always feels better than receiving. This has been so heart warming. Cheerleading isn’t a sport according to the state of Montana but my team works their booties off for every team! I guess I just wanted people to see that being kind is always free.”

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