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Saturday, October 18, 2008

Sweethearts in Qatar 

Posted by James at 7:00 AM ET

Just recently Cheryl O’Brien and Kimberly Newbern, Professional Cheerleaders Alumni members and former ROAR of the Jacksonville Jaguars, returned from their first tour as a Sweetheart. Cheryl shares her experience below.

“Sweethearts for Soldiers” is a group of 20 former NFL cheerleaders from all over the country who have a passion for supporting our US Military forces. Five of these ladies, including myself (Cheryl O’Brien) and Kimberly Newbern, just returned from a 10 day tour to the Middle East to perform for the soldiers stationed there. We left on Saturday September 13th and flew to Doha, Qatar where we were transported to Army Base Camp As Saliyah.

Sweethearts for Soldiers
Cheryl


The next day we signed autographs in the Dining Facility and ate lunch with some soldiers before meeting with Col Cotter, the base commander, and getting a briefing. He also presented us with a beautiful plaque of appreciation. We then got prepared for our first performance that night. We were all so excited and nervous!! We performed a 60-75 minute variety show which included lots of dancing and some singing, baton twirling, and gymnastics along with the crowd interaction games. The soldiers loved participating and winning some great prizes! The amazing thing about the show is that we all learned the material off of DVDs at home and put the show together during our airport layovers and one short practice! The show went really well and we were a huge hit!!!! After the show, we signed autographs and took pictures for hours, making sure that no soldiers were turned away.

Sweethearts for Soldiers
Cheryl & Kimberly


Our group was supposed to leave the next day on a military flight to Afghanistan for 4 more shows, but we were delayed due to weather (sandstorms) and security issues. Unfortunately the Afghanistan portion of the trip was eventually cancelled. We were so disappointed, but made the most of our situation and thoroughly enjoyed the rest of the week in Qatar.

Sweethearts for Soldiers

Sweethearts for Soldiers


We performed 2 more times at Camp Al Saliyah, and were able to schedule an outside show at Al Udeid Air Force Base (about 30 miles away). Some other highlights of the trip were eating lunch and bowling with a group of wounded warriors, getting to relax at the beach and swim in the Persian Gulf, and spending a night exploring a traditional marketplace in downtown Doha. Kimberly even tried the local cuisine - baby camel!


Sweethearts for Soldiers


Sweethearts for Soldiers


Camp Al Saliyah is the base where all the soldiers fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan come to relax on their 4 day Rest & Relaxation passes, so they had a lot of down time to just hang out and watch football and movies, play pool, darts, check email, etc. The most rewarding part of the trip for us was simply spending time with them and hearing them talk about their families and experiences in the military. The Sweethearts had a great trip and we feel like we were successful in our goal of bringing cheer to our brave servicemen and women stationed in the Middle East!


Sweethearts for Soldiers


To see more photos from the Sweethearts trip visit SweetheartsforSoldiers.com

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