FORT HOOD, Texas - The Family Readiness Group co-leaders accepted a gift of nearly $4,000 from the cheerleading squads of Klein Forest and Westfield High Schools during a Homecoming Game held Oct. 12 in Houston.

As the time approached for the Soldiers of Company B, 15th Brigade Troops Battalion, 15th Sustainment Brigade to return from Iraq, the fund raising efforts of Houston cheerleaders were about to kick into high gear.

"The mother-in-law of one of our Soldiers is a secretary for the Klein Forest athletics department," explained Nikki Medlock, currently of Killeen, Texas, one of the unit's FRG co-leaders and the wife of Capt. Glen Medlock. "When she heard about the girls looking for a fundraising project she suggested raising money for the FRG."

In the days and weeks to come, that small suggestion turned into a competition between the cheerleaders of rival schools.

"The two schools that raised money for our unit, Klein Forest and Westfield High Schools, are rival schools in Houston," said Leslie Ingram, also an FRG co-leader and the wife of Staff Sgt. Darren Ingram. "They each had two weeks to raise as much money as they could for the Soldiers, before the money would be presented to us."

During the competition, the girls received pictures of the Soldiers from the day they left for Iraq and letters from the Soldiers. The cheerleaders at both schools collected donations during lunch, and parents and local Houston businesses donated money for the Soldiers and their families.
Then came the task of deciding when the money should be presented to the FRG. It was decided that the best time would be during a pre-game ceremony at the Westfield High School homecoming game where the rival schools would be playing each other.

"For all the hard work that the schools put into raising the money for us, we wanted to give something back and add a little more competition," said Ingram, originally from Gary, Ind., but who calls Atlanta home. "We decided that both schools would receive two battalion T-shirts to hang on the wall, a certificate of appreciation with a plaque, Wagonmaster pins and 1st Cavalry Division flags. But we wanted to the schools that raised the most money to get something special."

At the game, as buckets were being passed through the stands for additional donations, each school presented them with the totals they had raised.

"At that time, Klein Forest had raised $1812.06," said Medlock, "and Westfield has raised $2000. Following the presentation additional funds were given to us - but the outcome of the competition was not affected."

While each school showed their amazing fundraising skills, there had to be just one winner for the competition.

Since the cheerleaders of Westfield had raised nearly $200 more than Klein Forest, their school
also received two company t-shirts and an American flag which had flown over Baghdad.

The funds that were raised will go toward the welcome home and Christmas parties planned for later this year, said Ingram.

"This year the Soldiers will get a free pass on the parties," said Ingram. "No one will have to pay out of pocket for the parties or farewell gifts."

Ingram and Medlock both said they are hoping to maintain their new found relationship with the schools in Houston, starting by donating to the booster clubs at each school later in the year.