TOLEDO, OH (WTOL) - The deaths of Sierah Joughin and Reagan Tokes stunned our entire community. Their lives, though short, are helping other girls be prepared in a moment of fear.
Anthony Wayne's cheerleading squad is using their life to learn how they can fight back against violent attackers.
"It shouldn't happen to anyone," said Hannah Florea, a sophomore at Anthony Wayne and varsity cheerleader. "No one should have to go through that. It's awful and I think everyone should have this experience to learn."
A cheer mom, Megan Newcomer, came up with the idea to put together a self-defense instruction for the entire squad after feeling like they were all at great risk. She said it came together quickly.
"I'm very passionate about making sure that these girls and boys are aware of what's happening and what can potentially go wrong in any situation," said Newcomer. "My hope is that they learn something and that they can walk away from this class knowing more than they did when they came in tonight."
The instructor, Kevin Pulhug, donated his time to the squad and taught them a variety of basic self-defense moves and tips for staying safe like not staring down at your phone while walking somewhere.
Several cheerleaders said they were fearful before, but now with hands-on experience, feel more aware and empowered.
"Even though we are smaller sometimes and we can't necessarily put up the best fight ever, it's the little things that he is teaching us and like hits and the stuff like that," explained Celine Clarke, a varsity cheerleader in her junior year at Anthony Wayne. "It's very important because without those, just like little knowledge, you wouldn't know what to do because they are very simple, little things that can make a difference."
Cheerleaders were invited to take another self-defense class in the future with the hopes of being even more prepared in case of an unwanted event.
Organizers hope other teams, clubs and school organizations will consider teaching self-defense to better protect our students.