MEDFORD — A South Medford High varsity cheerleader who has been cheering for most of her life hopes to raise enough enthusiasm to fundraise her way to London later this year for an international New Year's parade and cheerleading event.

MEDFORD — A South Medford High varsity cheerleader who has been cheering for most of her life hopes to raise enough enthusiasm to fundraise her way to London later this year for an international New Year's parade and cheerleading event.

If Jessica Lewis pulls it off, she would be the first from her school and possibly the region to take the trip, a daunting prospect given the costs.

Selected as among the top 15 percent from more than 1,000 cheerleaders at a UC Davis summer camp this year, Lewis was awarded the distinction of All-American as well as named to a far smaller group invited to return to serve as staff for the camp next year, after she graduates from South.

"It's a pretty big honor because you try out in front of everybody and they only pick a few hundred from all over the country," said Lewis.

While she's already tackled the biggest hurdle — being selected — the 17-year-old must now raise $3,000 each for herself and her mother to attend the annual parade.

Though slightly discouraged to learn that no one selected before her has ever raised enough money, Lewis said she wanted to be the first to realize the goal.

"I think, if I make it, I'll be the first person from South Medford to go and maybe from the valley," she said.

"We've had people get selected but the funds are so high that most girls don't get to go."

Lewis already made her first payment of $1,000, of which only a small portion is refundable.

She noted, "The first payment was pretty much my family. We got everyone to kick in like $100, so now I just have to raise $5,000 by October ... oh, boy."

South Medford head cheerleading coach Loni Strong said she hoped to see Lewis earn the chance to attend the event.

"South Medford usually has two or three girls a year that are selected and, in the seven years I've coached, not a single one of them has gone to London," Strong said.

"I have girls every single year that come home from camp and say, 'I'm going to do this, but then the process of talking to parents or trying to raise some money for a while usually gets them pretty discouraged."

She added, "We really need somebody to actually do it and accomplish it for the first time. It's hard to encourage other girls when no one has ever been able to do this before. Maybe Jessica will be the one."

For more information, or to contribute to Lewis's trip to London, email cookinmama172@yahoo.com.

Deposits can be made at US Bank, into the Jessica Lewis London Fund, account number 253657042227.

Buffy Pollock is a freelance writer living in Medford. Email her at buffyp76@yahoo.com.