NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Titans Cheerleaders helped Leukemia & Lymphoma Society Man & Woman of the Candidates celebrate the end of an incredibly successful fundraising campaign Thursday night.
The 2014 candidates that included cheerleading veteran Chasity Adkisson raised more than $600,000 over the course of a 10-week blitz, surpassing the Nashville chapter of the organization's goal by nearly $200,000. Adkisson finished as Woman of the Year Runner-up in the contest.
"I've just very grateful that I've had this opportunity," she said. "It has been an exhausting 10 weeks but a great 10 weeks. I've gotten more support than I ever could have imagined."
Rebecca Sweet was named Woman of the Year. Justin Paschal, who is currently in treatment, was named Man of the Year, and David Osborne was Man of the Year Runner-Up. Paschal and Osborne raised record amounts.
"I wanted to cry just because I was so happy about (the group's total)," Adkisson said. "You can't really understand what other people go through unless you see it, and then you still can't understand it even when you see it on an everyday basis like we have for the last 10 weeks, but just the joy that filled my heart from hearing that number was priceless."
Adkisson's campaign was assisted by 2013 Man of the Year Runner-Up Coty Sensabaugh's second "Dine with the Titans" event at Maggiano's and a Jimmy Choo shopping event hosted by 2012 Man of the Year Rick Olszewski and his wife Amy. It also included participant fees from an assortment of fitness classes and a lemonade stand her daughter organized.
"It's always great to have a Titans presence at the Man & Woman of the Year Campaign, and having it be Chasity, a 2013 cheerleader and a four-year Titans Cheerleader has been really wonderful," Titans Director of Cheerleading Stacie Kinder said. "She put her heart and soul into this, and what was really so great was to see how many Titans Cheerleaders alumni came back to really support her and her campaign."
Adkisson's cousin Chris Oden, a mother of two, lost her battle with acute myeloid leukemia (AML) in 2007 at age 34 after battling the disease for a year and a half. Adkisson also has been motivated by fellow cheerleader Robin Roach Towe, who cheered for the Nashville Kats and mentored others before passing away 11 years ago Thursday from AML at age 33.
Kinder has kept strong memories of her friend and colleague, and wanted to support 2014 LLS Girl of the Year Savannah Wright, who found out by surprise at the event that she will be a cheerleader for a day at a Titans game this fall. The experience will include attending cheer practices that week, a special photo shoot and being on the field.
"We had a custom uniform made for Savannah and what I wanted to do for Savannah was give her hope. She's still in treatment, and I know how hard treatment is," Kinder said. "So I think it's important to give Savannah hope so that she has something to look forward to so she'll know in three or four months she'll get to be with us, and that will help her fight treatment that's hard."
Wright will turn 17 next week and is a rising senior at Jackson County High School.
"I was just kind of shocked because it's crazy and unbelievable. I never thought I'd be cheering on the Titans, especially when I'm still in high school," Wright said. "I love the Titans. I've been a fan since I was little and I love the cheerleaders especially."
The Nashville Sounds surprised 2014 Boy of the Year Adam Crider with a package that included a personalized jersey and the opportunity to take batting practice, throw out the ceremonial first pitch and sing during the seventh inning stretch at a Sounds game this season and next.
Crider and Wright appeared in a video that detailed their fights and presented the Man & Woman of the Year Candidates the awards for their efforts.
Adkisson said she was pleased to welcome another member to the Titans Cheerleaders family.
"I think that's great. She's going to have a blast," Adkisson said. "It's something that she loves to do and when she got it, her face lit up, and to see that was great."