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Leading the cheers in Florida

By Todd Fuqua

Courtesy photo Ruidoso cheerleader Lindsey Thomas was one of hundreds of cheerleaders from across the country to take part in the All American Halftime Show at the Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl in Orlando, Fla., on New Year's Day.

Not everyone from Ruidoso was spending the Christmas break digging out from the snow.

Courtesy Photo Ruidoso cheerleader Lindsey Thomas takes it easy between practices for the All American halftime show at the Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl in Orlando, Fla.

Courtesy Photo Ruidoso cheerleader Lindsey Thomas takes it easy between practices for the All American halftime show at the Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl in Orlando, Fla.

Ruidoso High School cheerleader Lindsey Thomas spent at least part of it in Orlando, Fla., as part of the Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl halftime show held on New Year’s day.

Thomas, a junior, was chosen as one of hundreds of cheerleaders from across the country to participate, meaning her fundraising had to go into overdrive.

“Every year at cheer camp, they give awards out, and I was one of the girls chosen as an All American Cheerleader nominee,” Thomas said. “You have to pay a certain amount of money and get sponsors, but it’s a whole package deal.”

Thomas wasn’t the only Ruidoso cheerleader to be invited, but she was the only one able to raise the funds and sponsorships necessary to pay for the whole thing. They may choose you, but they won’t pay for it.

The week included trips to Disney World and Universal Orlando in addition to plenty of practice time before the actual game.

Packing was one of the harder things for her on this trip, as she was traveling from snow-bound Ruidoso to sunny Florida, with temperatures in the mid-80s and choking humidity.

Courtesy photo Ruidoso's Lindsey Thomas is in there somewhere, honest, as part of the All American halftime show at the Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl in Orlando, Fla.

Courtesy photo Ruidoso’s Lindsey Thomas is in there somewhere, honest, as part of the All American halftime show at the Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl in Orlando, Fla.

As for the show itself – which took place in front of more than 65,000 football fans on hand for the game between Michigan and Florida – Thompson said it was probably the hardest she’s ever had to work.

“It was a lot of work. A month before the performance date, they sent us video of the routines they wanted us to learn, six in all,” Thomas said. “The second day, after Universal Orlando, we had a long practice, changed some things and worked with it. On the third day, it was a full practice day on a high school football field in 85-degree weather with no shade.”

Now that she’s back, she’s looking forward to possibly being chosen again next year – along with her teammates – and she’s hoping more can raise the money to make the trip.

“If you put the hard work in, you can achieve anything that you want,” Thomas said. “Really, if you work hard for it, you will accomplish your goal.

“I met girls from across the country, and it was really neat to meet people from all over America,” she added. “To come from this small town and cheer in a stadium in front of 65,000 people and being on live TV, it was pretty incredible.”

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