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Hinsdale Central cheerleaders offer warm gesture for patients

Hinsdale Central cheerleader captains Haleigh Monyek of Clarendon Hills, from left, Gabby Palumbo of Oak Brook, and Lainey Huth of Hinsdale carry bags of blankets made by cheerleaders for patients at Adventist Hinsdale Hospital. | Chuck Fieldman/Sun-Times Media
Hinsdale Central senior cheerleader captains Gabby Palumbo, from left, Lainey Huth, and Haleigh Monyek show one of the 168 fleece blankets the school's cheerleaders made for patients at Adventist Hinsdale Hospital. | Chuck Fieldman/Sun-Times Media
Hinsdale Central cheerleaders Haleigh Monyek, from left, Gabby Palumbo and Lainey Huth load blankets made by cheerleaders into a vehicle Oct. 17 for delivery to Adventist Hinsdale Hospital. | Chuck Fieldman/Sun-Times Media

Support can be shown in different ways. Just ask the Hinsdale Central cheerleaders.

Cheering for school athletic teams at games and matches, and leading the cause for school spirit at pep assemblies are the most visible ways the cheerleaders support those at their school.

But 54 cheerleaders from Central provided some support beyond the school Oct. 17 when they delivered 168 fleece blankets they made to give to patients at Adventist Hinsdale Hospital.

The cheerleaders spent about 2 ½ hours of an Oct. 10 practice making the blankets, after collecting more than $3,000 in donations from attendees of three home football games this fall to purchase material.

“We wanted to make a difference and help the patients feel loved,” said Haleigh Monyek, a senior cheerleading captain from Clarendon Hills. “We’re a pretty large group that has the potential to make a difference, so we wanted to do something positive that would make a difference and help some people.”

This was the second consecutive year the cheerleaders made blankets. In 2012, they made 125 fleece blankets that were given to patients at Lurie Children’s Hospital in Chicago.

“We really liked the idea of doing it this year for our local hospital,” said Gabby Palumbo, an Oak Brook senior, who also is a cheerleading captain. “Doing this gives us an idea of who we’re really able to help.”

The Central cheerleaders loaded bags of blankets they made into vehicles after school and practice Oct. 17 and delivered them to the hospital, where they also received a tour.

“I wanted to do it for our hospital,” said cheerleading captain Lainey Huth of Hinsdale.

The effort to make the blankets was widespread among cheerleaders: The freshmen squad made the infant blankets, the JV Squad made blankets for the elderly, and varsity cheerleaders made blankets for children and teens.

“It’s a great opportunity for the girls to get involved,” said Bianca Lopez, varsity cheerleading coach. “One of our biggest roles is supporting the community along with the school, and this is a great way to do that. The girls have the ability to give back and wanted to.”

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