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They're never too old to cheer

Who says cheerleaders have to be teen-agers?

Not members of the Wilmington Golden Pom Pom Girls _ 17 women ages 57 to 75.

"When people tell me they're too old to do what we do, I tell them, "I do it because I have arthritis, and it's the only thing that keeps me going,'

" said Raye Woodcock, 69.

"I played basketball and did acrobatics as a youngster but never did any physical activity again to speak of until I joined this group four years ago," she said.

The group, formed seven years ago, performed cheers, stunts and pompon routines last week for residents of a nursing home in Kinston. The group usually performs at Wilmington area nursing homes and at University of North Carolina-Wilmington basketball games.

The group's youngest member, 57-year-old Jane Nitto, said she's fulfilling a lifelong dream.

"I always wanted to be a cheerleader," she said, "but they always said my legs were too large."