Thursday, February 14, 2008

NFL cheerleaders do their part to lift troops' morale 

Posted by Sasha at 3:39 PM ET

Keizer Times
February 8, 2008

On Veterans Day weekend, a group of former NFL cheerleaders representing teams from across the nation joined forces in Arizona to shoot the second annual "Sweethearts for Soldiers" calendar to support troops deployed overseas.

A former McNary cheerleader and San Diego Charger Girl, Brianne Beaty, was among the 13 women who posed for the calendar. She is the January model.

Several cheerleaders conceived the idea while conducting a United Services Organization (USO) tour in the Middle East.

Bari Yonkers, then a cheerleader for the Arizona Cardinals, discussed the idea of giving back to the troops with some of her fellow teammates.

"We were just so humbled when we visited the troops that we wanted to come up with something to bring some cheer to their lives," said Yonkers. "All NFL cheerleaders shoot a swimsuit calendar; why not make a military-themed one with proceeds benefiting them?"

When Yonkers returned to the states, she teamed up with Benjamin Moline, founder and chairperson of Soldiers-R-Us.

The inaugural calendar, which was financed through sponsorships from Arizona-based businesses and individuals, raised funds for 595 Arizona National Guardsmen deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan.

Funds for the 2008 calendars go toward sending care packages and calendars overseas to raise the morale of the troops. This year's theme, WWII pin-up girls, is a classic concept that expresses appreciation for the sacrifices of all deployed service members

Models for this year's calendars all have a special reason for donating their time and efforts - they have a personal connection to the military.

Moline, a former soldier, hopes to build on the popularity of the calendars to create more opportunities to interact with the troops.

"We already went on a handshake tour to Ft. Lewis and McChord Air Force Base. We'd like to visit our brave men and women overseas and personally deliver these calendars sometime this year in a USO sponsored tour," he said.

Calendars can be purchased by going to www.keizertimes.com and clicking on News Links.

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