Written by Sunni Cranfill
Pulling my thoughts together to write my goodbyes has been overwhelming. What a journey. My time as one of America's Sweethearts has been more than I could have ever asked for.
Just like many little girls, growing up I idolized, studied and admired the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders. Never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined that someday I might find the courage to audition for such a coveted job, much less spend three years in this very special role. From a small-town girl in East Texas to the big city of Dallas wearing that star-studded uniform and white cowboy boots, it has been a dream come true. I still get chill bumps thinking about it. I will hold each and every memory close to my heart.
As many of you know, my road to becoming a DCC was a little difficult, a little different, but I would not change a single thing about it. I learned so much about myself through that process. I grew as a person, toughened up and became even more of a fighter. I changed through this organization. I came with some accomplishments, a little talent and a big heart, but I am leaving with a heart so humbled and full of joy and respect that I will forever be in debt to the Dallas Cowboys, the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders organization, and all of the fans and loved ones I have met throughout my time as a DCC.
To all of our DCC fans: I have enjoyed each message, comment, letter and shout. When practices get long and muscles get sore, it is your words that inspire us to keep going. Thank you for your unwavering support.
To Kitty Carter: THANK YOU for encouraging me to give it one more try. You breathed life into me when I was completely deflated. Thank you for believing in me when I did not believe in myself. Most importantly, thank you for being my friend, my confidant and my mentor. I am so honored to have been able to follow in your "boots."
To Sarah Gourley-Idziak: From the bottom of my heart, thank you. Thank you for your patience, your passion and for your heart. God certainly knew what he was doing when he placed me under your leadership my rookie year. Your love for this organization bled into all those you met. I still worship the star-studded ground you walk on.
To Ann Lux: What a special experience we have had! Years ago, when you were dancing in that little pink tutu, if someone would have told me that someday we would dance together as Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders I would have laughed at them! What a truly special person you are to me. It is a unique bond that no one else can understand. What a privilege it has been to know you, to watch you grow up and to see you become a woman in Christ. You will always be little Ann Catherine to me.
To Jackie Bob: From the second I met you, I knew we were going to be partners in crime! You are my boo! Thank you for making this journey so special. For holding my hand, crying with me, laughing with me, for keeping me entertained when we were on the back row and had NO IDEA what was going on at the front of the triangle, and for dancing so big with me during breaks at practice even though no one even noticed us goofing off.
To Whitney: I am so honored to have been your second this year. You have become such a force to be reckoned with. Thank you for your guidance, encouragement and for allowing me to spread my wings.
To Meredith and Ally: Thanks for being the "gems" that you are. You have both helped me in more ways than I can count. Thank you for going beyond the call of duty as a teammate. You have made me laugh and wiped away my tears. I will forever cherish your friendship and love during this experience.
To "Dan Dan the Cheerleading man": Thank you for being a part of what will forever be the greatest honor of my life. I still cannot believe that I got to go on the USO tour this year. Being able to look all of those military men and women in the eyes and say thank you has changed me. The trip to Japan and Korea made me even more patriotic and ever more mindful of the sacrifices that are made daily. Thank you for enriching my life with that experience.
To Katelyyyyyyn and Cheryl DORRIS: You both work so hard. We could not do what we do without you holding our hands and helping us through each moment of it. You have both touched my life with your giving hearts, your sweet personalities and your drive and passion to make the organization better with each passing moment. You are both truly the "pearls" of this group. Thank you for being you.
To Kelli and Judy: Thank you for giving me a second chance and allowing me to be a part of this amazing legacy. You have both taught me so much about life. I will continue to live each day following the DCC promises. I have so much respect for both of you and feel so thankful to have spent this time with you. Your love for this organization makes it what it is: world class.
To Collin: Thank you for allowing me to chase my dreams. I could never have imagined that God would make someone so perfect for me. Thank you for enduring the late-night practices, long days at the stadium, appearances and time spent away from you so that I could live out this childhood dream. I am so looking forward to cheering for my "new" team … us!
To my family: Thank you for being MY cheerleader. Thank you for being the greatest fans in my life. I could never have accomplished this goal of mine without your overwhelming support. From audition outfits made from scratch, to cards and letters slipped into my dance bag, to early morning emails sending me off to Japan, your love has made me who I am.
To ALL of my teammates current and past: I have learned something from each one of you and I will take a piece of you with me as I move into the next chapter of my life. Thank you for the giggles, the hugs, the counseling sessions, and for being someone that I can look up to. You have given my life so much joy. Thank you for every single moment.
Time sure does fly when you are having fun! Looking back on these years I am reminded of so many priceless memories. I could never find the words to fully express the amount of gratitude and appreciation I feel for having been blessed with this amazing experience. As I prepare to hang up my boots, I am humbled and honored. In life, we are taught different things about success, achievements, accomplishments. My prayer when I started this journey was simple. This quote puts it into words:
To laugh often and much;
To win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children;
To earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends;
To appreciate beauty, to find the best in others;
To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition;
To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived.
This is to have succeeded.
– Ralph Waldo Emerson
Thanks for the memories,