Lawsuit brought by five former Jills derails the 2014 cheerleading season! maybe even the entire future of the Jills as Bills cheerleaders!
(See below for letter from Jills Founder Jo Ann Gaulin)
by Chris Polito
NEXT ALUMNI ASSOCIATION MEETING will be announced, soon. We will discuss the unfortunate lawsuit brought against the Bills, SteJon Productions, as well as Citadel Communications by five former Jills.
This lawsuit claims, among other things, that the Jills should have been paid, were subjected to a host of humiliating treatments and that their experience was basically a nightmare.
Strangely enough, it wasn't enough of a nightmare that two of these very unhappy cheerleaders nevertheless tried out for the 2013 squad. Unfortunately, they did not make the cut. Makes one wonder if sour grapes has fueled this lawsuit..
Every one of the Jills, upon making the squads over the past decade or so, receives a copy of a contract clearly listing all requirements, the fact the while the Jills may be paid paid for selected appearances, there would be many unpaid charity appearances, and being a Jill would not be a paid employment position. In fact nearly every Jill was either a student or employed or raising a family, or in some cases, all three. And the contract also covered a host of suggestions about how a Jill should carry herself and behave. Yes, including personal hygiene issues as well as etiquette. Some of the the 'new' Jills are just 18 years old, some just finishing up high school. The guidelines in the contract tried to anticipate many new challenges the new Jills would face. Contrary to claims in the lawsuit, there were really no surprises and these Jills willingly signed the contract.
These former cheerleaders, using first names only, were interviewed on assorted local radio and television stations.
As a former Jills cheerleader, I was embarrassed by their performance, acting like unwitting victims of some misogynistic conspiracy. They claimed they were forced to sit on men's laps in golf carts, were groped and forced to parade around in bathing suits.
As a Jill with personal experience spanning 14 years with the organization, I can categorically state that not once did a situation get out of control. If there was a problem, if any of us were put in an uncomfortable or compromising situation, we spoke up-- problem solved, immediately. We were not pawns or playthings, we were proud representatives of the Buffalo Bills, and demanded respect as such.
I would feel sorry for these five former Jills who have so blatantly misstated the Jills experience, except for the fact of the havoc they have caused.
There have been well over 600 Buffalo Jills since their inception in 1967. Let's hope the public will not judge the Jills or the Jills alumni on the basis of a complaint by five malcontents.They certainly do not define the experience. The Alumni Association works with local charities, supports one another and enjoys the sisterhood that the Jills encourage.
This lawsuit, in my opinion, is so petty and self-serving it would be laughable if it did not influence Buffalo's attitude towards the Jills
We will discuss this situation further at our meeting. I hope we can reach out to the brand new 2014 Jills who it seems will not have an opportunity to cheer at even one game this year. Lets invite them to the meeting. (comments opinion of Chris Polito)
Response to this lawsuit from Buffalo Jills Founder, Jo Ann Gaulin, who in 1967 forged an strong alliance with owner Ralph Wilson and Bills Gen'l Mgr at the time, Jack Horrigan:
To all my Jill Sisters (I am old enough to be your mother, but please patronize me) First, thank you for all the kind words sent to me via e-mail. I am finding it most difficult to describe my disappointment and heartbreak regarding the current news of the Jills lawsuit against the Buffalo Bills, not for myself, but rather for the girls who were looking forward to cheering for the “2014” football season, for those who were planning to attend the NFL Cheerleaders Reunion in Atlanta this August, and for those alumni Jills working on the committee to host the “2016” National Cheerleaders Reunion in Buffalo. My greatest heartbreak is for the alumni Jills who have worked tirelessly to continue to represent the Jills in such an admirable way for 46 years. The Alumni Board of Directors have given their time, dedication, commitment, and sacrifices all for the soul purpose of keeping the JILLS A FAMILY of which we are all proud to be part of. I am grateful for the success of the Jills and the continued approval by the Buffalo Bills Organization. It was Jack Horrigan’s trust in us to follow the rules that convinced Ralph Wilson to allow us to start a cheerleading squad. I never wanted to disappoint them. We always considered it a privilege to be on the field to cheer for our team. We were honored to represent the Bills when requested to make appearances for charitable organizations and never thought of being paid. The last time I spoke to Mr. Wilson he was sorry that he was unable to attend our 40 Anniversary Banquet but was very impressed with the Alumni. He was so happy that they were still actively participating in fund raisers and representing his Buffalo Bills. Before I press the send key, I want to thank you and send this quote from Mr. Wilson, “I want to extend my congratulations and appreciation to all the Buffalo Jills. They have done a wonderful job for us through the years. Hopefully, the Bills will be able to perform as well as the Jills. I thank all of you for being an important part of our team”. Let’s hope that this unfortunate happening can be resolved and the GREAT BUFFALO FANS can get their cheerleaders back. Your Founder, Jo Ann Gaulin
No one could have said it better. Thank you, Jo Ann
Meeting date to be announced.
ALL ALUMNI ARE INVITED.
Alumni Association Board :
President: Lori Marino (non-elected position) (Jills 1981- '92, '97-2000;
Jills Director 1987- 1992, Jills Advisor 1997- 2000)
Vice President: Jena Carlin Fiorella (Jills 2005)
Secretary: Sandee Laubacher Miller (Jills1994- 1999)
Treasurer: Jade Feeney (Jills 2000)
Appearance Coordinators: Kathy Waterfield Benzinger (Jills 1978)
and Jean Zydel (Jills 2002- 2004)
Newsletter Editor: Kim Hennigan Collins (Jills 1978- 1980)
Website Manager: Jeanne Frazer: (Jills 1979- 1980)
Media Coordinator: Susan Makai: (Jills 1978)
Alumni Advisory Board: Liza Gunn-Taylor (Jills 1980- 1982)
and Fran Marinaccio (Jills 1982- 1988)
Board of Directors: 1960's representative: Lee Hilliker (Jills 1968- 1970)
1970s representatives: Donna Dimitroff (Jills 1972- 1977)
Kathy Hubbard (Jills 1972- 1975)
1980s representatives: Ellen Okun Chiazza (Jills 1980- 1981)
Donna Harrell (Jills 1979-1984)
1990s representative: Selena Boswell (Jills 1990- 1991)
2000s representative: Darlene Fronczak Piparo) (Jills 2002- 2003)
Chairman of the Board: Chris Sullivan Polito (non-elected position)
(Jills 1971- 1985, Jills Director 1978- 1985)
Historians (non- elected position).
Hi Alumni! Now that the website is back up & running, we will try to keep you updated on happenings. However, an email address insures you of the fastest updates on current issues, appearances, etc. **
THE NEW UPDATED BUFFALO JILLS ALUMNI DIRECTORY WAS INTRODUCED AT THE REUNION- ALL ALUMNI IN ATTENDANCE RECEIVED A COPY IN HER 'SWAG BAG' OF GOODIES. THE NEW DIRECTORY IS FULL OF PHOTOS (THE GOAL WAS A JILLS-ERA PHOTO AND A CURRENT PHOTO OF EACH ALUMNA WHENEVER POSSIBLE) and new information.
IN YOU WANT TO ORDER A DIRECTORY, THEY ARE $10.
The directories will be available for sale at meetings or thru the mail, in which case there is an additional $6.00 mailing fee.
Send check made to Chris Polito to Chris: 5647 East Ln., Lake View, NY 14085 with your name and where to mail directory.
ONLY Jills Alumnae may order the directories. All information is considered confidential.
Jills 45th Anniversary Alumni REUNION: Sat., August 4, 2012 was a huge success! Over 200 attended, which included over 130 Jills alumni.
_____ ______ _____ _____ ______ __
The Buffalo Jills Alumni were invited to participate with the current Jills in an ON-FIELD DANCE at the OCT. 9, 2011 BILLS GAME, bringing attention to BREAST CANCER RESEARCH
150 ALUMNI PARTICIPATED!
There were three weeks of practice, twice a week for 3 hours each. There were over 2 dozen from out of the Western New York area,, including at least 10 from out of state. We had alumni from California, Texas, Georgia! It was hard. There were Jills from 1968 to the 2000's. Our 'most experienced' Jill cheered in 1968! She was 67 years old and fantastic! Since many of us came from the Jills "pre-dance" era, we were somewhat challenged. It was a complex routine with four field position changes. It was a several minutes long version of Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'". In the beginning some of us were convinced we'd never make it. But no one quit. And in the end, WE WERE FABULOUS! We were very proud to be a part of this event.
The Buffalo Jills Cheerleaders were officially formed in 1967. This came about when Jo Ann Gaulin, (below right) an avid Buffalo Bills fan, had attended out of town games and noted that many teams had professional cheerleading squads. At that time, the Buffalo State College Cheerleaders cheered for the Bills in the old War Memorial Stadium.
Jo Ann met with Bills' owner Ralph Wilson and proposed a team of mature, responsible women, under her directorship, form an official cheerleading squad for the Buffalo Bills. Jo Ann suggested a minimum age of 22 and that the women be married, partly to ensure that they would have escorts to the games. Mr. Wilson agreed. Jo Ann ran the first 'try-outs', arranged uniforms and scheduled practices, and she named them "the Buffalo Jills". The rest is history! The former Buffalo Jills Cheerleaders, now called the Buffalo Professional Cheerleaders Alumni, are celebrating 43 years of friendships and memories! Thank you Jo Ann.
Throughout the years they have had numerous styles of cheerleading, not to mention styles of uniforms. During that time, one thing has never changed-- our appreciation of the Buffalo Bills Football team, the Bills fans, and owner Ralph Wilson for giving us their support .
In 2009, after 42 seasons of cheering for the Buffalo Bills and regular reunions with the over 600 former Buffalo Jills cheerleaders, we have finally formed an official Alumni Association for our members. To prevent any confusion with the current Jills, we have been asked to refrain from using the Buffalo Jills name in any public venue, therefore, we are calling ourselves the Buffalo Professional Cheerleaders Association.
We plan to use this website as a visual celebration of our past, as well as a communications tool to alert alumni members to upcoming meetings and events.
Our mission statement for the alumni association includes nurturing friendships and memories, while banding together with our talents and resources to do good deeds in the WNY community.
We also hope to use this website as a search tool to find some of our 'lost' alumni.
We hope all alumni visiting the site will leave us their updated contact information. (see Contact Us page)