As one of two Sunshine Girls for the Flight Crew this year, Donna is responsible for spearheading celebrations and activities for her fellow cheerleaders.
Whether it’s a birthday, an engagement, an anniversary, or any other festive moment, Donna and her co-Sunshine Girl, Natalie, will orchestrate it.
“I love, love, love, being the Sunshine Girl,” Donna said. “You’re there for your teammates in a positive way, and you’re there to help spread sunshine.”
This week, however, the third-year cheerleader won’t be doing the party planning. Donna is the one being celebrated, as she is serving as this week’s Gameday Girl leading up to when the Saints come marching in to MetLife Stadium on Sunday.
“Usually I’m the one celebrating the Gameday Girl,” she said. “It’s really odd to be on the other side of the conversation. I’m very humbled, appreciative, and surprised more than anything.”
It won’t all be about Donna this week, though, as her special day will be shared with 35 others when the Flight Crew welcomes back its former members for alumni weekend. And that’s more than OK with Donna.
“I prefer when the spotlight’s not on me,” she said.
Donna feels she wouldn’t even be on the Flight Crew today had it not been for the former cheerleaders helping her along the way. She was a cheerleader growing up and all through high school, but when she got to Rutgers University during “probably the most exciting time in their history – the Ray Rice era,” she lacked the confidence to try out for her college cheerleading squad.
Regretting that decision as graduation approached, Donna wasn’t going to make the same mistake twice. She attended Flight Crew prep classes, where she was able to learn directly from team members and experience what it would be like to cheer for the Jets.
“If I hadn’t done that, I don’t think I would’ve had any shot to make the team,” she said. “It will be really nice to see the alumni because a lot of those girls are responsible for me being the cheerleader I am today. I am very grateful for their support.”
The cheerleaders of past and present will get together tonight for an Alumni Weekend Kickoff Reception in Manhattan before reconvening Sunday morning at MetLife Stadium in the hours leading up to the 1 p.m. kickoff.
“Celebrating the alumni at Sunday’s game by giving recognition to our former Flight Crew Cheerleaders is something that is very special to me,” director Denise Garvey said. “Each of these women has helped to shape the spirit of our squad. Their time spent here as cheerleaders was filled with hard work, dedication and commitment to our program, which has contributed to the positive impact the Flight Crew squad has had on the Jets culture. I am grateful for the time each and every one of them spent with the Jets and happy to have them in our Flight Crew family."
“One day we’re all going to be alumni,” Donna said. “I want to do my part in making them all feel appreciated.”