Tags Posts tagged with "Cheer"


Olivia Hiz at the University of Alabama. Photo from Melissa Rosman

It’s been two weeks since Mount Sinai graduate Olivia Hiz was found unresponsive in her University of Alabama dorm room and put on life support. And while her family has been on pins and needles every day, the generosity of close friends, community members and total strangers are helping to keep their spirits up.

A GoFundMe page to support medical expenses and rehabilitation for Hiz was set up April 6 by her cousins a week after the 18-year-old college freshman was rushed to DCH Regional Medical Center in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, March 29.

After hours of testing, doctors diagnosed her with streptococcal pneumonia infection, which ultimately led to viral encephalitis, a severe swelling of the brain.

Olivia Hiz, at center, with her mother Lisa and father John. Photo from Melissa Rosman

Just a few days before her collapse, Hiz was at home in Mount Sinai and visited the doctor to get some sinus symptoms checked. Once she was evaluated and returned to school, her symptoms escalated.

She has since been transported to University of Alabama Hospital in Birmingham for treatment, where she’s currently relying on a respirator. The family said although she’s still not able to communicate verbally, she’s displayed slight cognitive ability by opening her eyes and moving her hands.

According to Hiz’s cousin Melissa Rosman, who posted the online fundraiser, the close-knit family of uncles, aunts and cousins decided quickly that a page should be made to help ease the burden of  parents John and Lisa Hiz.

Considering the serious clinical situation, the family realized this could be a long haul for Olivia Hiz and her parents.

“The treatment Olivia’s receiving right now — the ventilator, all her tests, MRIs — is very expensive and they don’t know at the moment what will be covered by medical insurance and what won’t be,” she said. “Everyone in the family, of course, is devastated … [but] we’re being cautiously optimistic that she’ll wake up soon. Olivia is very caring, has a huge heart and she’ll always help everyone in need, which is why I’m so grateful people are helping her when she needs it most.”

“We’re just a very close family and when one gets cut, the other bleeds. This has been a difficult time for everybody.”

—John Rosman

In just six days, the GoFundMe reached $31, 275 of a $50,000 goal from a total of 331 people, ranging from family friends to Mount Sinai-Miller Place community members to complete strangers. Individual contributions range from $5 to $1,915.

“We are just so grateful for all the love and support we’ve received,” Rosman said. “It’s been so incredible and everyone has been generous and caring through everything.”

Annmarie Farris, with a donation of $50, wrote on the page, “From one Alabama freshman mom to another, I am praying for you and your family.”

Jodie Schreck, a Mount Sinai math teacher, with a donation of $100, wrote, “Liv, Miss Schreck loves you … our hopes and prayers are with you and your family, awaiting to see your sweet smile.”

Hiz’s parents, who have been in the hospital at their daughter’s side every day, expressed gratitude for the generosity of those reaching out.

“John and I are just blown away by it; it just amazes me how many people care for her,” Lisa Hiz said. “I feel very blessed that people have gone out of their way, reached into their pockets and opened up their hearts to John and I … we are so touched by everyone’s support and the messages we’ve received.”

Olivia Hizat the 2016 Universal Cheerleaders Association national championship. Photo from Melissa Rosman

John Hiz said it’s comforting to know they can lean on their community for support.

“This basically confirms just how great our area is,” he said. “When there’s a crisis, the community comes together and supports its members and families … because we all grew up together. This is going to be an extremely long road to recovery, [but] we’re hanging in there.”

The former Mount Sinai varsity cheerleader, who won the 2016 Universal Cheerleaders Association national championship, is a human environmental sciences major at the university and made the Dean’s List during her first semester with a GPA higher than 3.5.

Michael Rosman, Olivia Hiz’s uncle, said his niece is special.

“Olivia’s very outgoing and always the life of the party,” he said. “You always know when she’s in the room. She makes everybody laugh.”

John Rosman, her other uncle, who was at her bedside the first few days of her hospital stay, said the only thing he wants is for Hiz to be able to go home with her parents.

“We’re just a very close family and when one gets cut, the other bleeds,” he said. “This has been a difficult time for everybody and it’s just something you don’t expect to happen. Olivia’s parents have the support of family, the support of friends and the support of community.”

To donate to the GoFundMe page, visit www.gofundme.com/oliviahiz.

By Bill Landon

Cheerleading squads from all over Suffolk County converged on the mats of Rocky Point High School Sunday for the Suffolk County cheerleading sectionals, where Rocky Point and Comsewogue ran away with first-place finishes.

Cheerleading officially became a recognized sport in the 2015-16 school year, making this sectional event the first time that the competition is overseen and sanctioned by the New York State Public High School Athletics Association.

Rocky Point was the first of 31 teams to take to the mat first in Small School Division I “A,” and the squad wowed the crowd with a two-and-a-half minute routine, despite head coach Anna Spallina feeling less impressed with her Eagles, which are 12-time regional and three-time national champions.

“You have two and a half minutes to prove yourself out on the mat — if you don’t prove yourself in those two and a half minutes, you don’t get a second chance,” Spallina said. “You can’t go to the net again with a ball, or throw that pass one more time, so one little slip, an inch this way or an inch that way, and you can throw it away.”

Pleased or not Spallina’s squad earned first place in the division followed by Longwood and East Islip came in third.

With a squad of consisting of mainly eighth and ninth-graders, and only three seniors, Rocky Point senior Courtney Kelly said the Eagles’ only competition was themselves.

“We don’t worry about any other teams, we just worry about ourselves because the only routine we have to beat is ours,” she said.

Brittany Reh said there are some other challenges now that cheerleading is recognized as a sport, such as a different scoring sheet and new rules, but thought her team performed well despite the changes.

“We had a pretty good performance,” she said. “We stayed positive.”

Claire Johannesen said her team has had better execution on the mat, but will continue to work hard to remain at the team’s standards.

“Today was an okay performance, so we definitely have things we have to go to work on in practice,” she said. “But we did many things well that we’ll build on going forward.”

Northport hit the mat next looking to give Rocky Point a run for first place, and after a performance that impressed the judges, the Tigers’ head coach Danielle Milazzo talked about the adjustment her team has had to adjust to the scoring changes.

“The whole scoring rubric is completely different from last year, so we’re trying to get used to that,” Milazzo said. “We’ve reworked routines to align them with the scoring sheets to try to make sure we get the maximum number of points from New York State.”

Comsewogue hit the mat in the second session, as did Kings Park, competing in the Small School Division I “B.” The Warriors put on a flawless performance as the crowd exploded in applause with their finish, but head coach Stefanie Breitfeller was just relieved that the routine was behind her, as the team had yet another hurdle to jump prior to a competition.

“We had a major change this morning as I found out last night one of the girls came down with pink eye,” Breitfeller said. “We had to replace a starter, so we came into this thinking this could go badly or it could go very well.”

Comsewogue senior Samantha Donlon was thrilled with her team’s first-place finish.

“We did absolutely amazing — we have worked so hard for this day and I’m really proud,” she said. “I’m so happy and this will make us perform even harder next week.”

Comsewogue senior Rachel Steck said she thought her Warriors team also performed well, but thinks that like always, there is room for improvement.

“It could’ve been a little tighter, but I’m just so proud of my team,” she said.”We did our best today. We’ll practice our routine; we’ll make it harder and we’ll make it cleaner.”

For junior Brittany Dein, she thought her team performed beyond its expectations with the last-minute change.

“All week we’ve been running the routine a whole bunch of times and I can’t fault any part of our performance,” Dein said.

The teams will reconvene on Sunday Jan. 24 at Hauppauge High School for the second round of competition.