Polish leader Meghan Webster is ready to fly to Hawaii to march and perform in the Pearl Harbor Memorial Parade

Polish leader Meghan Webster is ready to fly to Hawaii to march and perform in the Pearl Harbor Memorial Parade

Poland Regional High School freshman Meghan Webster makes a tackle during a recent practice on the school’s soccer field. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

Earning an invitation to perform and march in this year’s Pearl Harbor Memorial Parade left cheerleader Meghan Webster jumping for joy — and with a strong sense of pride and accomplishment.

This rare opportunity for the incoming Poland Regional High School freshman also includes a tour of Pearl Harbor, with stops at the USS Arizona Memorial Visitor Center and the USS Missouri — providing all athletes with a clear understanding of what President Franklin Roosevelt meant when he said: “A day that will live in infamy.”

“I worked hard for it,” Webster said. “I feel like I’ve accomplished a lot.”

But the price for this once-in-a-lifetime experience — which will take Meghan and her mom, Kristi Logan, on a 10,164-mile round trip to Honolulu, Hawaii, for the Dec. 7 memorial parade — is about $6,000.

The family organized yard and bake sales and created a GoFundMe page to help cover the excess costs.

Poland Regional High School freshman Meghan Webster, right, and her mother Kristi Logan pause for a photo before a recent cheer practice at the Poland school. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

Webster, who also plans to play softball for Poland, has been a cheerleader for the past six years, with her mom coaching her for the past four. Webster calls cheerleading her passion.

“The other coach for the Auburn Wreckers is Crystal Kirk, who I worked with,” Logan said. “Also, Meghan takes drop-in classes with Element under Brianne Daigle. They both put a lot of hours into Meghan’s success.”

Logan herself was a Poland Regional High School cheerleader, and now works for a delivery company as well as a cheer coach at the Auburn Recreation Parks Department – which explains Webster’s passion for the sport. She added that a visit to Pearl Harbor to honor those soldiers — who fought and gave the “last full measure of devotion” — is a two-for-one deal.

“She will walk in the parade and she will do a special performance for the nation’s heroes before the parade,” Logan said. “I also believe she will take the USS Missouri tour of Pearl Harbor. It’s not just a fun trip; it’s also a historic trip.”

Webster attended a recent National Cheerleading Association camp at Husson University, where she won the Top American Cheerleading award – which created the opportunity to perform and march in the Pearl Harbor Memorial Parade.

Logan explained why her daughter got the invitation.

“Athletes can be nominated for amazing jumps, for great throwing or leadership skills. And what happens after that is on the last day of camp, every kid that is nominated takes a solo tryout, and if they score a 23 or higher they make the team and they are allowed to perform at different events, and Pearl Harbor happens to be one of those events.

“Meghan not only made the (All-American) team with a high score of over 23, she got the highest score of the entire camp.”

Webster was on a mission to prove something to herself at camp.

“I made All-American last year,” said Webster, who will represent Poland Regional High School. “So when I didn’t make the team then, it made me feel like I could improve things. So I just worked harder and harder for that.”

Webster went on to write on her GoFundMe page: “I’ve had mistakes, falls, a few minor injuries and at times felt completely defeated, but my love of cheering never let me give up. Winning this award allows me the opportunity to travel to Hawaii and perform and to march in the “Remembering The Past and Celebrating The Future Memorial Parade” which marks the 81st anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor.

“Not only do I get to perform and do what I love, but I get to perform in front of some of our nation’s heroes! To say I’m honored is an understatement.”

Webster will receive her cheer routine via email two weeks before she leaves for Hawaii. She will also have a few days of practice with the team after her arrival.

“I honestly couldn’t be more proud,” Logan said of her daughter. “Ever since she was a little kid, cheering has always been my passion. Just to see her work her butt makes it all worth it. For her to be recognized, it’s a huge achievement and brings tears to my eyes just thinking about her.

“She always says, ‘I can’t wait until we go.’ It’s going to be so much fun.’ She’s just as invested in it as I am. It’s great to watch her push herself to get better. She is not your average teenager, I can tell you that. In her spare time, she goes to fall classes. She’s always out on her crease path, making her drops better.”

In addition to the parade, Webster will meet her teammates and learn more about the storied history of Pearl Harbor. She said she’s a little nervous about the long trip, but she’s also really excited.

“(I just) want to thank my mom for most of this because if she didn’t push me as hard as she did, it probably wouldn’t have happened without her,” Webster said.

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