CAB volunteer feels ‘satisfaction’

CAB volunteer feels satisfaction

CAB volunteer feels ‘satisfaction’

Brooke Larimore

The past two years I have headed out to the Campus Activities Board Homecoming bonfire with pom poms in hand. I always arrive at 8 p.m. with my Missouri Southern cheer T- shirt and jeans, sporting a bow in my hair.

I perform the fight song, talk to friends and hit up Taco Bell afterward, which makes for a fun and easy night compared to the long and hectic events of the next day.

This year I decided to do a little more than show up and look pretty. I decided to become a CAB volunteer for the night.

This was the third year CAB has hosted the Homecoming bonfire. It’s a new tradition devoted to get students excited for the next day’s events. It is held in the gravel parking lot, next to the stadium at the corner of Newman and Duquesne roads.

Instead of arriving at 8 p.m. with the other cheerleaders like I usually do, I arrived alone at 7:30 p.m. to help the other volunteers set up.

Honestly, I felt a little out of my element. These students see each other every week and I hardly knew them. I thought to myself, “Come on Brooke, you cheer in front of tons of fans every Saturday, you’re not allowed to be nervous.”

As soon as I reached the pile of wood, I didn’t have a chance to be nervous anymore.

Bulking up

I helped the others unload plastic tables and metal folding chairs until we had what looked like a small outdoor cafeteria set up.

I am required to lift weights twice a week for cheerleading, but when I saw how many chairs the other female volunteers could lift, it made me think I should pump some more iron.

Then we unloaded boxes of junk food and bags of candy, which felt like paper compared to the tables and chairs.

I was amazed how fast the DJ set up. Before we were finished unloading, lights were flashing and the latest hits were blaring from two loud speakers by the snack table.

Bigger picture

I had a chance to visit with the other volunteers after we had finished our well-organized set up process.

It was then I remembered why I had liked volunteer work so much in high school – the feeling of accomplishing something that benefits others.

The other volunteers really welcomed me in. I no longer felt like an outsider, but more like a long-standing member- maybe even more welcome than I felt when I first joined the cheer squad three years ago.

When you are a part of something such as a team it’s hard to see the bigger picture. The football players are focused on the big game, the cheerleaders on pyramids and the dancers and marching band on halftime.

Who can blame us? It’s all we have known for most of our lives, for me the last eight years.

It was cool to see the part of the bigger picture that CAB fills when it brings everyone together.

Cell phones and fire

I looked at my cell phone at 7:59 p.m. I could already see the stream of headlights coming toward our gravel island.

Lots of little groups formed as more and more students arrived and the band began to march up.

Football players kept a watchful eye out for coaches, knowing there was no way for them to escape.

The band we usually see in green and shiny gold uniforms wore comfortable Homecoming T-shirts instead.

The fire was lit and the band began to play the usual spirited version of the fight song. I must have been thinking a little too much about the next day because I completely knocked the cute rhinestone hat off my head.

I thought, “You have got to be kidding me! I have preformed that song over 100 times, how embarrassing!” Oh well at least it was dark right?

Smoke from the fire made the night smell more like fall. The cool air was also a nice touch.

The fireworks began and colors other than just green and gold lit up the sky. I was taken back to one of my favorite holidays for five or so minutes.

Of course the fireworks weren’t the only thing that lit up the night.

The glow of cell phone screens took the fireworks place in lighting up the party. I never thought fire and phones could make such a good combo.

Everyone was making plans for the rest of the evening since the night was still young. I had no time to text. I had to help the other volunteers clean up.

“I think the bonfire had a great turnout, great fireworks show and a lot of camaraderie went around,” said Nathan Hicks, public relations officer for CAB.

Lights out

Again I flexed my muscles and we repeated the set-up process, only in reverse this time.

The DJ’s lights and music were turned off, and the only light came from a small flood light on a nearby shed.

The lone trash can was now full with empty wrappers, boxes and cups. No snack food package had been left uneaten.

I had to take a step back when I saw the small group of six volunteers and colleagues huddled around a director who would not be coming back.

Tori Christiansen gave some last words of advice and passed out hugs.

She even asked me how I enjoyed being a CAB member for the evening. I replied, “It was a lot of fun; I think I will join next semester.”

No one wanted to leave, but with a busy day ahead it was inevitable. Volunteers needed to finish floats and prepare for the busy day ahead.

“This is one of my favorite events. We have been doing this for the past three years it is something that is fairly new to the campus,” Hicks said. “With it being fairly new, as you saw for yourself tonight, we had great attendance.”

I left with the last of them and made my long walk back to my car with a feeling of satisfaction that I had done more than show up and look pretty. I was even a little hungrier for Taco Bell than the previous years.