Trading pom-poms and megaphones for hoses and towels, the most spirited group of Bobcats added a glimmer of sunshine to an otherwise cloudy afternoon yesterday to give a final cheer for a fallen football player.
The Ohio cheerleading squad operated a car wash at Leghorn’s Restaurant to raise funds for the Marcellis Williamson Memorial Fund. Williamson, a former Ohio nose guard, died April 27 at Euclid Hospital after a blood clot developed in his lung.
Following his death, Williamson’s family and Ohio Athletics established the memorial fund to defray funeral costs. Even before the car wash, the fund had accrued $7,200, and the cheerleaders brought in another $800 by the end of the event. Additional donations given directly to the restaurant yesterday have yet to be totaled.
“We wanted to be able to come up with as much money as quickly as possible,” said cheerleading coach Kristin Hoskinson, who also works at Leghorns, 944 E. State St.
“I really think it’s important for the cheerleaders to support all the programs, whether we’re in season or out of season,” she said. “I think this was a great way to show our support for the football program and show our respects.”
Through their time cheering for and travelling with the football team, many cheerleaders had developed friendships with Williamson. Among those is senior
Brittany McLaren, who first met Williamson almost four years ago while standing in the food line at an away game.
“He just smiled at me, making little jokes,” McLaren said. “At that point in time, as a freshman, I didn’t know any of the football players, really. It was just nice to have someone on the team that was a friend.”
McLaren and Williamson often hung out with mutual friends. She helped him move out when he graduated after Fall Quarter, and Williamson’s family treated her to dinner to show appreciation.
"He had one of the biggest hearts of a person that I’ve ever met,” McLaren said.
“It was kind of rough knowing that I had met his family too and how much they cared for him.”
Within fifteen minutes of starting the car wash, the cheerleaders had washed three cars and raised $35. Robert Vero, whose daughter Stephanie is a cheerleader, drove all the way from Canton — through the rain — to have his car washed and to show his support.
“He was a great kid, always wanting to give to others, something small or something big,” said junior cheerleader Ashley Martinez. “This is a way to give back to his family and show how appreciative we were of all the good things he did for us.”