Entries in Cheerleaders (2)


‘Inappropriate’ Breast Cancer Shirts Land Cheerleaders in Hot Water

Photodisc/Thinkstock(GILBERT, Ariz.) -- Cheerleaders at Gilbert High School in Gilbert, Ariz., can’t wear the pink t-shirts they bought to raise money for breast cancer research because the school’s administrators claim the slogan they bear is inappropriate.

According to a Thursday report in the Arizona Republic, the squad’s shirts read, “Feel for lumps, save your bumps,” and the team planned to wear them during the school’s football games during their cheers on the field and while collecting money from the crowd.

Gaylee Skowronek, the cheer booster club president, told the Arizona Republic the administration approved the squad’s plan to raise money, but the school’s principal, J. Charles Santa Cruz, objected to the slogan on the shirts and banned the cheerleaders from wearing them.

“We thought the shirt was age-appropriate,” Skowronek said. “I think it’s hypocritical they would approve a fundraiser for breast cancer research but they won’t approve a shirt to bring awareness to breast cancer.”

This is not the first time breast cancer awareness campaigns have caused a stir over edgy messages. The Keep a Breast Foundation makes bracelets and t-shirts that read, “I [heart] Boobies” and distributes them to young people with the goal of raising their breast cancer awareness. The bracelets have been banned by several school districts across the U.S., but in April, a federal judge in Pennsylvania upheld public school students’ rights to wear them.

Other breast cancer organizations are more cautious when it comes to supporting campaigns with these kinds of messages.

“While Komen for the Cure tends to stick with more mainstream language about breasts, we do understand that young people talk differently than adults,” said Andrea Rader, the director of marketing communications of Susan G. Komen for the Cure, a network of breast cancer survivors and activists based in Dallas. “We generally support efforts to educate and engage young people, especially young women, about this disease.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Hearts of Cheerleaders and Ballplayers Can Suddenly Stop, Say Experts

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(LOS ANGELES) -- An apparently healthy high school cheerleader who died after collapsing during a football game this past weekend likely experienced sudden cardiac arrest, a rare occurrence that has again raised questions about the value of widespread screening.

Bystanders at Friday night's game briefly revived Angela Gettis, 16, of George Washington Preparatory High School in Los Angeles, using CPR, but she was pronounced dead at a local hospital after her heart stopped.

Gettis had no known health problems; her family is awaiting results of an autopsy to learn how her life ended so unexpectedly. A member of the Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps, Gettis had planned to major in forensic science in college.

Her death comes on the heels of sudden cardiac deaths among a half-dozen brawny high school football players in Texas, Arkansas, Georgia, South Carolina and Florida as they trained in the suffocating summer heat. The boys had several things in common, including having heavy-set physiques and collapsing early in the practice season, a likely result of pushing themselves when they weren't accustomed to the exertion.

Cheerleaders can be similarly stricken. On April 5, a 16-year-old girl collapsed from sudden cardiac arrest during cheerleading tryouts at North Hunterdon High School in New Jersey. Quick-thinking coaches and parents, who had been trained in CPR and use of automatic external defibrillators, sprang to action and saved her life.

However, in many cases, youngsters don't survive these episodes. Janet Zilinski, an 11-year-old New Jersey girl, died from sudden cardiac arrest after cheerleading practice on Aug. 10, 2006. Her parents, Jim and Karen Zilinski, created the Janet Zilinski Memorial Fund, which is pressing for a New Jersey law requiring AEDs at all public and private schools and sports fields and mandating that schools and sports camps have trained responders as well as emergency action plans.

Sudden cardiac deaths remain relatively rare, with an estimated one in 100,000 to three in 100,000 young U.S. athletes succumbing annually, said Dr. Kathleen Maginot, a pediatric cardiologist at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. The incidence could be as rare as 1 in 1 million among children from ages 1 to 18, said Dr. Ian Law, a specialist in inherited heart rhythm disorders at the University of Iowa in Iowa City.

Maginot and Law said the No. 1 condition leading to the youngsters' deaths is hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a congenital problem in which the heart becomes abnormally thickened. Second are abnormalities that impede blood flow through the arteries (not to be confused with artery-clogging accumulations of plaque), Law said.

Other conditions that can set the stage for sudden cardiac death include inherited arrhythmias, in which the heart beats erratically; infection of the heart muscle called viral myocarditis; other heart enlargements that weaken the heart; and inherited heart defects, including those that have been surgically repaired, Maginot said.

Before youngsters engage in vigorous sports, their parents and coaches should be aware of cardiac risks such as a family history of sudden death before the age of 50, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), or a history of fainting during exertion. The warning signs include passing out during exercise (which some athletes may try to hide out of fear they'll be told to stop playing), as well as palpitations and chest pain. Maginot also cautioned that episodes that look like seizures may not be epilepsy, but might result from irregular heart rhythms that interfere with blood flow to the brain.

Although an increasing number of schools now monitor athletes' heart rates, which should revert to normal after increasing during exertion, widespread cardiac screening of young athletes has not been adopted by either the American Heart Association or the American College of Cardiologists.

Maginot said cardiac screening "would definitely pick up" abnormalities among some young athletes who died earlier this year, such as those whose inherited cardiac abnormalities put them "at increased risk of arrhythmias after their life-saving surgical repairs." However, she said, had athletes who developed viral infections before their deaths been given typical screening tests last fall, the tests "would likely have been normal since they did not develop their illness until later."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio