On Nov. 13, Lori Morris was driving two of her daughters, a friend, and her friend’s daughter, to compete with Midwest Cheer Elite at an Americheer competition in Columbus.
Near the Wards Corner exit of I-275, their van was struck head-on by another vehicle driving the wrong way on the highway. Morris was killed, and the rest of the passengers were hospitalized. Kenzy Blair, the 14-year-old daughter of Morris’ friend, remains in critical condition, although the most recent news is that she is expected to recover from her extensive injuries.
The all-star cheerleading community nationwide has rallied to support the families and the gym. “We’ve had so many gyms around the state — many states — call and ask what they can do. It really has been out of this world,” said Midwest Cheer Elite front desk manager Joyce Lee.
A video recently posted to YouTube shows a 4-minute slideshow of photos of cheerleaders from gyms around the county wearing royal blue to support Midwest Cheer Elite, and many gyms and national organizations changed the profile pictures of their Facebook pages to a blue Midwest Cheer Elite ribbon.
At the Queen of the Nile All-Star Challenge competition at the Duke Energy Center this past weekend, blue ribbon pins were handed out and cash donations were accepted to benefit non-profit funds set up to benefit the Morris and Blair families.
The participants of the competitions also signed two huge banners full of well-wishes to be delivered to the families.
Midwest Cheer Elite squads missed the first day of the All-Star Challenge to allow its cheerleaders to attend Morris’ funeral. They competed the next day, along with their sister gym, Midwest Cheer Elite Toledo.
All-Star Challenge awards $1,000 to every super division winner, and each winner opted to donate their prize to the Morris and Blair family funds. Those donations, along with cash contributions from gyms and participants, raised more than $10,000.
Midwest Cheer Elite Toledo, whose cheerleaders all wore black ribbons on the left arms of their uniforms, were awarded the Best Fans prize. Midwest Cheer Elite was awarded the Leadership Award.
Midwest Cheer Elite owner Tanya Roesel addressed the crowd as she accepted the donations from All-Star Challenge. “This says a lot about our industry,” she said. “There’s no other sport … that would ever get together for people that you guys don’t know.”
Roesel said that Kenzy had been referred to as a “miracle child,” because the paramedics had assumed she hadn’t survived the crash when they first discovered her.
The reason Kenzy Blair is “going to make it,” Roesel said, is because there have been so many people praying for her recovery.
Hear Roesel’s entire address below.