In the hallways of Sam Houston High School Monday, an unusual cheer rang out from the school's Varsity squad.
"Keep that Braves spirit up!" shouted the cheerleaders.
They are practicing to root for the Iraan Braves. It's a school nearly 400 miles from Arlington, but it was close to the cheerleaders’ hearts.
"We're going to go support them and show our love," said cheerleader Brenda Tinoco.
The Braves cheerleaders need that love right now. Last Friday night, after their football team won a state quarterfinal, six cheerleaders and two adults were on a bus headed home in bad weather.
It was struck by an 18-wheeler. Some cheerleaders were badly injured, as was their longtime coach. A booster club president who was riding on board died from her injuries.
"We have to move through this,” said Iraan-Sheffield ISD superintendent Kevin Allen. “There has to be grieving. Every day it will get a little better.”
The accident is hitting the small town of Iraan hard. But this Friday, their football team has to play in a semifinal game at Shotwell Stadium in Abilene. So Arlington ISD cheerleaders are stepping up.
"I can't imagine having to go through something like that," said Sam Houston cheerleader Alyssa Johnson. "It really feels like it's a responsibility of ours to go and honor the team."
"If I was in that position, I would want someone to be there and cheer on my team," said Sam Houston cheerleader Victoria Limon.
Arlington ISD's Director of Athletics Kevin Ozee came up with the idea, and three high schools quickly jumped on board. In addition to Sam Houston High School, Bowie High School and Martin High School plan to send their squads.
"We might have close to 30 cheerleaders and three sponsors," said Ronda Sherrill, Sam Houston’s cheer coach.
The cheerleaders from Arlington will have plenty of company. Iraan-Sheffield ISD has said more than two-dozen school districts have volunteered to send squads to cheer on the Braves, from across Texas and as far as Oklahoma.
The visitors will form a giant pep squad in the stands, wearing a rainbow of high school uniforms. But Friday night, the cheerleaders said there would be one clear message.
"We're not only cheering for your team, but we're cheering for your recovery," said Johnson. "We're cheering for your cheerleaders."
Arlington ISD said anyone who wishes to make a donation to help fund their cheerleaders' trip can take cash or check to the AISD Athletics department at 1141 W. Pioneer Parkway, Arlington, Texas.
Any surplus money collected will be donated to the fund set up to help pay for medical bills for the injured Iraan cheerleaders.