Sioux Falls, SD
Thousands attended an annual cheerleading competition in Sioux Falls on Sunday.
This year's event wasn't about who wins, it's about honoring six-year-old Alivia Coon and her siblings 16-year-old Michael Hensley and 12-year-old Savannah Coon who fell victim of a Sioux Falls house fire back in December.
The color purple flooded the halls in the Sioux Falls Arena on Sunday, all in honor of a former teammate.
"It’s a celebration of Alivia's life and her brother and sister. This is a time to rejoice and that we got to know them," Robin Fritsch with Dakota Spirit said.
Around 2,000 cheerleaders of all ages from South Dakota, Iowa, Minnesota and Nebraska competed for the 12th annual Valentine's Classic and Alivia Coon Tribute. Many teams are wearing purple bows to remember Alivia.
"We have a lot of purple bows, kids have bought, a lot of teams are wearing purple," Fritsch said.
Dakota Spirit sold purple hair bows and key chains in memory of Alivia Coon. They are the color purple because that was Alivia's favorite color.
One Dakota Spirit mom explained why they decided to sell the cheer bows to raise money.
"Good signifier of a memory and uplifting that spirit," Nikki Doherty said.
Dakota Spirit says even cheer groups from far and wide, who have never even met Alivia, are rising hundreds of dollars and remembering one of their own.
"We actually have had some cheer groups that went above and beyond the call of just the purple bows and did fundraisers of their own," Doherty said.
Dakota Spirit says 100 percent of the money and donations raised will honor Alivia, Michael and Savannah.
"In every sadness there is joy, and that is why today is such a joyful day," Fritsch said.
As Alivia cheered her way into many hearts, Dakota Spirit will be cheering Alivia's name for years to come.