NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Behind every great accomplishment is an even greater cheerleader, and for New York City’s comeback, no one is cheering louder than a group called Gotham Cheer.
The nonprofit is comprised of around 30 volunteers from all kinds of dance levels who perform at charitable events across the city, from Brooklyn Pride to a family day at Battery Park.READ MORE: Pride Celebrations Turn Violent As NYPD Clashes With Crowd In Washington Square Park
“We welcome everyone. Our members are LGBTQIA+ identified, but we also have allies, like I said, we have people who are doctors, lawyers, actors, singers,” Gotham Cheer co-founder Felipe Hernandez said.
Hernandez started it three years ago with Latoya Laflore.
All money raised goes to help homeless youth in the city. Hernandez says 40% identify as LGBTQIA+.
“Personally, I came out when I was 15. From Long Island came to New York, so I remember being a teenager and needing that support, so to me, just being another source of support for youth in New York City is exactly why I was put here on this earth,” he told CBS2’s Lisa Rozner.
They practice once a week for three hours.
“A lot of working on synchronization and just time. Like, over and over and over again,” Laflore said.
During the COVID-19 lockdown, they met virtually and taught dances and cheers to youth stuck at home.READ MORE: When This High School Valedictorian Started Giving A Speech About Being Queer, The Principal Took The Mic
“Love. That is, like, a major thing that’s going on because of the pandemic. It brought everyone closer together,” volunteer cheerleader John-Deric Mitchell said.
The group says New York City is craving their energy. They’ve booked more events this summer than ever before
“I just saw pure excitement on everyone’s face. We all were just so happy together and able to actually celebrate in person this year,” volunteer cheerleader Autumn Kovach said.
This past weekend, kids broke into a song and dance with the group.
“It’s the glitter. It’s the rainbow,” Laflore said. “We’re doing it from a really true place in our hearts and people can feel that.”
“I hope that they feel proud of who they are. We’re proud of who we are, and we want to instill that in them. That’s why June is Pride month, and we are New York City’s Pride cheerleaders,” Hernandez said.
They say it’s an honor to cheer the city on and give it the extra boost to come back to life.
The group is giving back in another way this weekend; it’s holding a youth art celebration Saturday in the West Village.MORE NEWS: #TogetherInPride: Events Galore During Busy Weekend In NYC
For more information visit, gothamcheer.org.