Fatty’s to host fundraiser for cheer team

By Jamie O'Toole, Columnist

DeKALB — Since NIU cut athletic funds in 2017, the cheer team has been considered a club. In an effort to assist the team in affording its trip to nationals, Fatty’s Pub & Grille and the cheer club will team up to host a fundraiser on Thursday for locals and students to donate.

The fundraiser, at 1312 W. Lincoln Highway, will include an appetizer buffet and draft beer for $10. Attendees must be 21 to drink. The fundraiser will be in the Novack room starting at 8:30 p.m. Tickets are available on Fatty’s website.

After 10 p.m., a DJ will be playing music in the Novack room as cheerleaders serve drinks to guests. Cheerleaders will bartend with help from the restaurant’s regular bartenders. Along with the money they collect from tickets, whatever the cheerleaders accept from tips will also go toward their trip.

This will be the restaurant’s first year hosting a fundraiser for the cheer team, and it hopes to raise at least $1,000 for it to attend nationals, Fatty’s owner Jeff Dobie said. Dobie said Fatty’s will be donating food for the event so that the team can be the main priority for profits.

NIU has the only competitive cheerleading team in Illinois.

“That’s something to be proud of,” said Dobie. “[However,] time is money, and the team practices two to three times a week on top of schooling.”

Fundraising is not only essential for nationals, but also foruniforms and other resources.

The cheer team was cut from the NIU Athletic budget due to a priority budget cut, Head Coach Aubrey Gallione said. The NIU Athletic Department also cut the coaching salary.

When most of the team members were recruited, the budget was in order. After the budget cut, parents are finding it harder to provide money for cheerleaders to stay on the team, Dobie said.

Also since the cut, the number of cheerleaders on the team has gone down significantly, Gallione said.

The cheer program used to have two teams, one all-women team and one co-ed, but now NIU only has one co-ed team.

When Gallione first started coaching three years ago, she was coaching 45-50 athletes, but now there’s only 25, she said.

Dobie said he may run the fundraiser twice per semester in order to assist NIU’s cheerleading team with its needs.