Monday, December 15, 2008
By Andy Major
Jills in Kosovo
The Buffalo Bills Cheerleaders, the Jills, spent the entire Thanksgiving weekend overseas in the Balkan Region volunteering their time and entertaining the U.S. Troops.
Seven Jills cheerleaders, Jamie, Kristin, Jill, Ayeshia, Anna, Lisa and Katie gave up the holiday with their families and returned just in time to be back at the Bills game last Sunday. They performed daily variety shows, dance routines, autograph sessions, meet & greets and spent their time with the troops.
"The troops were all so appreciative that we took the time, especially at the holidays, to spend Thanksgiving with them," said Jills cheerleader Kristin, 27. "We were able to talk about what their lives are like back home. Many have families, wives or husbands with young children. They love telling stories about their family and friends and showed us pictures."
Jills cheerleader Kathryn, 26, shared the appreciation of one of the soldiers that said to her, "Thank you for taking my mind off the fact that I am not with my kids."
During the trip, the Jills had the opportunity to meet highly ranked military officials including a four-star General. The officials handed each girl a special coin for exceptional performance/service for going above and beyond in the effort to boost the morale of the troops. The coins are not given out very often and the Jills recognized the significance. "It is something that we will treasure forever, and it helps us remember how appreciated we were," said Kathryn.
At one of the meet and greet sessions, Kristin spoke at length with soldiers from the Italian Army sharing that her family was from Italy. One of the Italian soldiers took his Italian flag/crest off the sleeve of his jacket and gave it to her. "It really meant a lot," said Kristin. One of the U.S. soldiers saw this and gave her an American flag to give to the Italian soldier as a token of appreciation. Kristin noted that this was her most memorable moment of the trip and said, "That is something I will never forget."
Jills cheerleader Lisa, 22, noted that one of the most entertaining moments during the trip happened when three of the Jills put on the "bite suit" at the K-9 unit and got attacked and taken down by 100 pound dogs. There were no injuries! Regarding the trip with her teammates on the Jills squad Lisa said, "We shared a lot of memorable moments and lots of laughs as well."
Kristin summed up the visit to see the troops in the Balkan Region best by saying, "You really learn to appreciate where you live a lot more and not to take even the little things for granted. These brave men and women sacrifice so much to make our world a safe place to live."
Let's hope for a safe and speedy return home for these respected soldiers and for all our military.
Jills in Kosovo