VERNON (KFDX/KJTL) — Three very special cheerleaders from Vernon High School are now home after the opportunity of a life time.

If you were to ask Audrey Hodges, Jasmine Jackson and Lilly Jones, all senior Vernon High School cheerleaders, if they ever thought they’d be selected out of thousands to take part in the 80th Anniversary Pearl Harbor Memorial Parade, they’d say:

“It was so much fun. Any other year we probably wouldn’t have appreciated it as much because we would be thinking ‘We can come again next year,’ but this year we were like ‘We’re never going to do this again,’ so we really had to take it all in, and it made it that much more enjoyable.”

The seniors are three of the more than 600 high school All-American cheerleaders to travel to Hawaii to cheer in an event of such caliber, like the Memorial Parade. They said it was truly an honor.

“It was really exciting,” Jones said. “I think we were all really happy to be an All-American and then have the opportunity to just, I guess, represent Vernon and our small town at something that big.”

They all said the best part, though, was seeing the excitement on the faces of the veterans in attendance.

“It was really heartwarming to perform in front of the stage of veterans,” Jackson said. “Whenever we walked out, they were waving with smiles, and it just meant a lot to me because they paid the ultimate sacrifice, so that was the least we could do for them, to honor them.”

The three spent their time in Hawaii exploring and learning routines for the parade, alongside their coach Allison White, who was once an All-American herself. The moment came full-circle for White.

“Getting to see them – and I’ve had them since seventh grade; they were my first middle school program to start here at Vernon District – so to see them come as seniors and getting to experience this, it’s heartwarming for me,” White said.

It was a touching moment for their community as well.

“Coming back, we have a lot of veterans and family members here who have someone in the military, so I just know that everybody here in Vernon can truly understand and know what it means to experience something like that,” Jones said.

“This is such a great thing for Vernon, you know; we’re a small community, and it’s so nice to get the recognition for these girls because they deserve it,” White said. “Our program has just grown tremendously, and sometimes it takes something big like this for you to go, ‘Man they’re awesome’.”

This is the kind of big moment these three said they’ll never forget.

Now with the parade done, the girls said they’ll be turning their attention toward their state cheerleading competition.