An elementary cheer squad is selling tickets for a raffle where the grand prize is a semi-automatic rifle. The move for this fundraiser has drawn criticism, surprise, and pushback from some parents.
The cheerleading league is located in Ohio, where a mass shooting just took place in Dayton, OH only a few weeks ago. Heather Chilton has a seven-year-old cheerleader in the club and is the one who spoke up about her concerns. She said she went to the league president, Richard Wooten, about the grand prize being an AM-15 optic ready rifle.
She felt it wasn't appropriate for children to be selling tickets for such a prize.
Chilton spoke with local Ohio affiliate WXIX saying, "With me doing this, I'm teaching the girls they have to stand up for what they believe." She has brought national attention to this issue and has stood her ground. Wooten has acknowledged this is bad timing and a tricky political climate to raffle off a gun.
However, as he told CNN, a rifle is the way to go, "It's easy to sell. It's a hot item." This year three mothers raised concerns over the annual raffle. Students are required to sell raffle tickets and must sell five tickets for the rifle and five for a different gift basket. If they choose not to sell tickets, families are charged a $100 opt-out fee. Wooten said that this year families won't be charged the opt-out fee as a gesture of goodwill.
Wooten also promised to reevaluate the prize next year and is willing to see if a new top prize would be more appropriate. He did add his stance on the controversial gun debate saying, "I also think there is a greater issue people are missing. The gun violence we see is a symptom of a larger problem. I wish we would focus on the greater root."
The New Richmond Junior Lions Football and Cheer program is for kids between the ages of 5-12 and operates as a non-profit and independent organization for young football players and cheerleaders. This raffle is typically a big fundraiser. The prize has been a rifle for the past four years but this is the first year there have been complaints.
We've never seen an elementary raffle with a semi-automatic raffle as the grand prize and we can't help but feel there are other prizes that can be won but still enjoyable. Do you think this is an appropriate raffle prize? Or do you see nothing wrong with it?
Let us know your thoughts in the comments!