Senior cheerleading club in Berks County bringing joy all year round

Tamala Edwards Image
Friday, October 6, 2023
Art of Aging: Senior cheerleading club at Heritage of Green Hills in Shillington, Pennsylvania bringing joy year round
Art of Aging: Senior cheerleading club at Heritage of Green Hills in Shillington, Pennsylvania bringing joy year round

SHILLINGTON, Pennsylvania (WPVI) -- Every Thursday, Kathy Lavanga leads a cheer group at the Heritage of Green Hills in Shillington, Pennsylvania.

"We've been doing the cheerleading club for about five years now," says Lavanga. "And it's a really fun, tight-knit group."

Cheerleading is part of the Heritage's Well by Design program.

"We're actually a very active senior living community," says Kristine Rymar, Director of Residential Health Services for the Heritage of Green Hills.

And the cheer group is known around campus as the Heritage Hotties.

"They don't take themselves terribly serious," says Lavanga.

Lavanga's daughter, Elizabeth, started the group when she was a junior in college, while on her way to medical school.

"She wanted to have a community service project and my mom had seen the movie Poms, which is about a senior cheer group," says Lavanga.

Since Lavanga's daughter had been a high school cheerleader, she says "it just seemed like the natural thing to do."

Lavanga's mom, Carol Lauer, has been a member since day one, since she says she thought the cheer group was "a wonderful idea."

"I love the music. I love the movements," says Lauer.

"We have about nine active members," says Lavanga.

The ladies are all residents at the Heritage of Green Hills and range in age from their 70s to their 90s.

"Our oldest is turning 96 this year," says Lavanga.

However, age hasn't slowed Martha Davis' passion for the cheerleading group. She says she was initially attracted to the group after seeing the ladies waving their poms.

She wanted to join herself, but worried she might be too old to cheer.

"I needed to exercise," says Davis.

She says she didn't think it was possible, but "the hotties made it possible."

"Cheerleading is very good for memory," says Lavanga.

She says it also uses a lot of "motions that you wouldn't do in your normal, daily life."

"It's a lot of cross-body work," she says.

Terry Mscichowski says being a cheerleader has brought many benefits.

"My husband is now married to a hottie - that's a big one," says Mschichowski.

"We have a good time and everybody laughs," says Lavanga.

Mscichowski says there are many things she enjoys about the group, such as the friends she's made there.

"The sense of accomplishment, that yeah, this routine has come together," she says.

And she credits Lavanga for her leadership.

"She's fantastic," says Mscichowski.

"It has meant so much to me," says Davis. "They just make me feel welcome and wanted."

"Even though you're getting older, you can still do something fun, exciting and active," says Lavanga.

For more information:

The Heritage of Green Hills

The Heritage's Well by Design Program