A decade later, a kind spirit lives on
Special to The Union
Ten years after the death of his daughter, Jeffry Feinberg continues to keep her spirit alive through an award and scholarship in her name that helps other young people.
Begun in 2006 in honor of the Nevada Union High School cheerleader, the Savannah Cheyenne Feinberg Cheerleading Achievement Award will be given out to one young lady this Friday during an award ceremony.
“We’ve kept this thing going nine years now,” Feinberg said.
Savannah Cheyenne Feinberg died at 15 after “medical complications” that later involved a lawsuit. Jeffry Feinberg remembers her with glowing admiration despite the pain in his eyes.
At age four, the young Savannah Cheyenne entered the world of gymnastics. It was clear the girl with a long family history of gymnastics was made for the sport early on. Her mother and father had been gymnasts. Her grandfather was Leo Feinberg the “flying ringman” in the 1940s.
Savannah Cheyenne went on to compete in national competitions, winning medals her father still carries proudly.
“She was one of the top gymnasts in the country. She was kind of legendary in these parts,” Jeffry Feinberg said.
Her freshman year at Nevada Union, Savannah Cheyenne joined the Junior Varsity cheerleading team. She died in September of her sophomore year.
Though he is proud of his daughter’s athletic abilities, it is evident that Feinberg is moved even more by his girl’s character.
Qualities like kindness and generosity, an inspirational team leader, a positive mental attitude, respectful and an excellent work ethic are attributes that stand out and set the list of criteria for the award.
“She was not from this world. Everyone said there was no one like her. She was so well loved. This award is about girls who embody Savannah’s spirit,” Feinberg said.
Feinberg and his wife, Karen Janson, have established a Go Fund Me site to replenish dwindling funds in the scholarship. In the past decade, about $6,000 has been distributed to 20 girls.
In the past, Feinberg, his family and friends have collected money for the fund. Savannah Cheyenne’s mother, Karen Feinberg, has also played a big role in keeping the memory of her daughter alive with younger generations.
So far, about $1,200 has been raised and Feinberg has set a goal of $10,000 for the fund.
The money will help families pay for the cost of uniforms and travel expenses that come with the sport of cheerleading.
“The expense is astronomical for average families. This is what my daughter would want, she always put everyone first. These girls work so hard and then comes the bill,” Feinberg said.
Elaina Stafford, mother of six living on Social Security and a “cheer mom” for 12 years, knows firsthand the hardship cheerleading costs can have on families.
“They have to do multiple fundraisers just to make a dent,” she said.
Her daughter, Taylor Stafford, 17, a senior cheerleader at Nevada Union High School participates in numerous fundraisers throughout the year to raise the $1,500 needed for uniforms, camps and traveling expenses.
“It’s year round, they don’t get to stop when football is over,” Elaina Stafford said.
Taylor Stafford is the only fourth-year cheerleader on the team and has been invited to be an instructor with Universal Cheerleaders Association.
Unlike most girls her age, Taylor Stafford remembers Savannah Cheyenne, who cheered with her older sister. She remembers Savannah Cheyenne’s welcoming attitude, kindness and warmth, far removed from the mean, stuck-up, popular girl stereotypes typical of movies and television.
Also heavily involved with Future Farmers of America (FFA), Taylor Stafford, who isn’t afraid to work to save money, says assistance for families will make life a little easier for girls like her.
“It gives girls more opportunity than they would have. I think a lot of the girls get scared away because of the cost,” she said.
Learn more at http://www.gofundme.com/savannahfeinberg.
Contact freelance writer Laura Petersen at email@example.com or 530-913-3067.
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