When Erica Dinkins started DREAM Performance Athletics in March 2018, her goal was to not only help the young ladies who joined the competition cheerleading team become better at their craft, but to teach them the importance of giving back to the community as well.

Fast-forward to well over a year later, and Dinkins’ growing organization has developed into just what she envisioned from the start: a community-focused family.

Members of the team gathered at the Culpeper Walmart on Saturday, August 3 to show just how much they care about the Culpeper community. From 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., they collected donations from the public to assist Services to Abused Families, or SAFE for short.

The team’s eight hours of hard work paid off, as it was able to raise $650 and fill a 14-foot trailer with groceries, sundries and other items from SAFE’s wishlist for battered families.

“The ladies did an excellent job with the [fundraiser],” said Christin Miller, DREAM’s marketing and fundraising coordinator. “We were absolutely thrilled with all that we were able to do for SAFE and, by extension, the community.”

DREAM is an acronym for “Dream big; Remain humble; Embrace change; Aim high and Move mountains,” a motto that Dinkins said she lives by on a daily basis.

“All of those elements are key to how I approach everyday life,” she said. “When I started this team, my main goal was to pass those values on to the young ladies in our community.”

Dinkins’ team is comprised of young ladies who are ages six and up. During the youth team’s first full season of competition cheer in 2018, it earned a spot in a national meet.

Since then, word has spread throughout Culpeper about DREAM. As a result, the team has taken on new members, which Dinkins said will lead to the creation of an additional team.

“We’re still very much in the growth phase,” she said. “But we almost have enough members now to split into a youth team and then a junior team based on the age groups of the girls.”

While the team is always looking for ways to give back to the community, the association with SAFE came about primarily through a connection with Miller.

“SAFE helped me through a difficult time in the past, so I wanted to help support that cause,” Miller said. “They do so much for abused families and individuals, so it’s a pleasure to be able to contribute to that cause.”

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