Gardner finds golden ticket

First Posted: 11/29/2009

Like another great story, Maddie Gardners began with a golden ticket. However, Gardners tale involves shoes, photo shoots and a shopping spree fronted with enough cash to start her own chocolate factory.
The Mount Airy sophomore won an all-expenses-paid trip to New York City from Sept. 11-13 that featured a $5,000 shopping spree with a personal shopper at Barneys, a makeover and tickets to a Fashion Week show. Later, the pictures her mother, Sarah, took of her in New York City caught the eyes of people at Inside Cheerleading magazine, leading to Maddie becoming Decembers cover girl.
Gardner, who cheers for Cheer Extremes Senior Elite in Kernersville, bought the shoes in March. When she opened her new Nfinity shoes and saw the golden ticket, she didnt know what to think. Nfinity sponsored the contest to send a lucky girl to NY City.
I really didnt know about it, she said of the contest. But the guy at the booth told me what it was about.
Gardner said she has to keep a spare pair of kicks in the trunk of the car because she constantly forgets her equipment. Plus, who can pass up a good deal on pair of shoes?
I always need a new pair of shoes, the bubbly Gardner said. Always.
That philosophy paid off big time. She was one of 10 cheerleaders to find a golden ticket. Those 10 girls were entered in an April drawing at the Cheerleading Worlds Championship at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fla.
Gardner said she has been to New York a few times, but, Its way different when you have $5,000 dollars to spend. It was magical, just amazing. I loved every second of it.
After hitting the shops Gardner got a makeover and checked out a fashion show in her brand-new outfit before eating at the Upper East Sides Serendipty 3.
The next day, Gardner and her mother took a few pictures of Maddie in Times Square in her Senior Elite uniform.
It was so embarrassing, Gardner said. I didnt want to take my jacket off. My mom was like, Everybodys different in New York. Youre good.
Those pictures caught the eyes of Inside Cheerleading representatives and appear within the pages. Helping Gardner land on the cover were the facts she is an All-American cheerleader who volunteers at local hospitals and owns her own cake decorating business. Gardner is the captain of Mount Airys junior varsity cheer squad.
A 16-year-old girl loves any attention she can get, she joked. Its kind of been like an out-of-body experience.
While Gardener takes a tongue-in-cheek approach to everything, her popularity is no joke. Her cover, coupled with Internet message boards and YouTube clips, has made her a hot commodity. She said she has gotten requests for signed copies of the magazine from as far away as Norway and Chile. Someone even approached her to autograph a copy for their daughters stocking.
Im proud of myself, but at the same time I want to stay humble, she said. I dont want to let it go to my head.
Gardner is the second local athlete to appear on a national magazine cover. Former Surry Community College baseball pitcher Jordan Jessup was featured on the front of a Reebok catalog.
Contact Ed Phillipps at [email protected] or 719-1921.

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