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Cheerleader of the Week: Elizabeth


Elizabeth and her friend Kayla are all smiles at the Ronald McDonald House.

Texans Cheerleader of the Week Elizabeth has a knack for dancing to country music. Some girls on the squad even call her their Jessica Simpson. But this fifth-year veteran is equally renowned for her cheerfulness.

"She's a delight to be around," cheerleader services manager Alto Gary said. "She's never going to bring anything negative. She's always a positive person and she definitely will pass the positivity throughout practice and the girls."

"She always has the biggest smile on her face," Lynnette said. "She's always a ray of sunshine on the team. Whenever we're tired, you look over at Elizabeth and she's just as cheesy as ever. I love Elizabeth. She (adds) great excitement to the team."

Elizabeth brings that same enthusiasm to the community through active charitable inolvement, particularly with the Ronald McDonald House. In college, Elizabeth volunteered at the Ronald McDonald House through her sorority, and she since has continued that service for the past year and a half as a regular volunteer.

The Ronald McDonald House serves as a temporary home for seriously ill children and their families as the children undergo treatment at nearby hospitals. The Houston location is especially large because of the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, which is only a couple of blocks away.

"I like volunteering here and giving back because I feel like I've been very blessed in everything I do," Elizabeth said. "I've worked really hard to get a degree and I feel blessed that I'm a part of the Texans and so I like to use that to give back, and I think that the kids here really think it's cool and that it gives them something to look up to."

Most of the children at the Ronald McDonald House have cancer or other serious illnesses that force them to be hospitalized for long periods of time.

"A lot of people think that it would be really hard to see the kids sick or see them hurting," Elizabeth said. "But because they're at the hospital all day, when they come back here this is really just the place that they can spend time with their family and be happy.

"There's so much going on here, so many activities and fun things for them. You can tell it's joyful for them, so it's cool helping out with that."

Elizabeth says that spending time with the children is what keeps her coming back to the Ronald McDonald House. But she's also moved to volunteer there by the recent loss of her grandmother to pancreatic cancer.

"It just really hits home and I know what we went through with her, and she's older and has lived a full life," Elizabeth said. "I can't imagine having a child go through that. It really helps knowing that I'm helping families in their process of dealing with a sick child."

{QUOTE}Given her personality, it should come as no surprise that Elizabeth has a hard time saying no to the children.

"I'm really an easy pushover," she said. "Every time I'm here, I think the kids just know I'm a sucker and they'll come and ask me for anything because I'm like 'OK, you can have whatever you want.'

"They have a little barrel of Beanie Babies that they're allowed to pick from. They usually get one a day, or you have to kind of have something special happening in order to get one. And this one kid, every time I was here, I swear he knew I would just give it to him and not say no because he would always come and ask me, and of course I'm always like 'OK, sure you can get one.'"

Elizabeth's dedication to the Ronald McDonald House might seem challenging with such a busy schedule. She works full-time at KHOU in advertising sales. And every other week, she spends her only night off from cheerleading practice, Wednesday, at the Ronald McDonald House from 6-9 pm. But Elizabeth has developed habits in her five years as a Texans Cheerleader that allow her to get by.

"I've become obsessive compulsive on scheduling and packing," she said. "It's insane, I have everything packed. I have my day packed. I pack for practice every night when I get home, all the stuff I need for the whole day, and I am on time everywhere so that I have to make a list constantly.

"I'm a list freak, so being a cheerleader has just taught me really good organizational skills."

The hectic lifestyle of a Texans Cheerleader has become routine for Elizabeth after so many years with the squad.

"I think that we have all gotten used to being so busy that it's just second nature to us now," she said. "I'm just so used to being so busy, I don't know what I would do without it.

"It's almost a stress relief actually," she said. "Instead of adding to my stress, if I have a stressful day of work or whatever's going on, I can go to practice and just dance and have fun with the girls and relax."

Whenever Elizabeth actually finds a free moment, she says that she loves being with her family. She also loves to spend whatever time she can in the water, and describes herself as a "really, really obsessive skier."

In the future, Elizabeth hopes to continue her work in radio-television, which she earned her degree in at Sam Houston State University. She says she loves her current career and is constantly striving to learn more about it.

"I also of course want to have a family. I love kids," she said. "I love hanging out with my little cousins, and so eventually I want to get married and have a family and do all that, and work and do the whole thing."

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