GRAND CROSSING —The South Shore Drill Team boarded a chartered bus Monday night before heading to New York to perform for the first time in the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade despite falling short of its fundraising goal.
A goal of $35,000 was set and the nonprofit organization raised $32,014, which included $5,000 from Walgreens and a $1,500 check it received Monday from the McCaffery Interests and Chicago Lakeside Development, said Sara Vlajcic, administrative coordinator for the team.
"It was never any doubt whether we would go or not. I would have put the tab on my credit card if it came to it," Vlajcic said. "I am grateful for the support we received in the 11th hour that really made a difference."
McDonald's also chipped in for the trip, giving the team $600 in McDonald's gift cards. Franchise owner Keith Allen treated the team to dinner at a McDonald's at 6900 S. Lafayette Ave. Monday.
The last-minute donations were welcome, because, as of Friday, the drill team had only raised $16,500 from members paying $300 each.
It's not the first time the drill team has faced money woes to perform out-of-town.
In January, the drill team needed $45,000 to participate in the Presidential Inaugural Parade in Washington, D.C. Three weeks before the parade, contributions poured in. Walgreens and businessmen Timothy and Everett Rand donated $10,000 each and the team ended up raising $50,500.
The drill team was expected to arrive Tuesday in New Jersey where they woud stay at a hotel until Friday morning. The parade kicks off a 8 a.m. Thursday. While in New York, Vlajcic said the team woud tour Times Square and eat at Londel's, a soul-food restaurant in Harlem.
Tamisha Dorsey, a 15-year-old sophomore at Kenwood Academy High School, said she was happy to be going to New York for the first time.
"I have never been to New York and I like crowds so going to New York is perfect for me," Dorsey said Monday. "I like performing in front of people and showing them what I got."
Sophomore Alyce Robeson said what she enjoyed the most about being a drill team member was belonging to an extended family.
"We are like family. We don't just perform together but we are maturing together and experiencing life as teenagers," said the 15-year-old who attends Holy Trinity High School.
Dontay Reese, who represented the drill team at the inauguration in January, said he liked traveling all over the country to perform.
"I hear adults say you should travel when you are young because when you get older you won't have the time or money to do a lot of traveling," Reese said. "So, I am trying to do as much traveling as possible before I get to that point."