NEW RICHMOND, Ohio (FOX19) - A New Richmond mother is fighting for change after she says her 7-year-old daughter was asked to sell raffle tickets for a semi-automatic gun for her cheer squad.
This is Nevaeh Chilton's first year on the Junior Lions Cheer Team. Her mother, Heather Chilton was excited for her 7-year-old daughter to join the squad.
Now she’s fired up about a fundraiser her daughter was asked to be a part of.
The members of the football and cheer team have been asked to to sell raffle tickets for an AM-15 optic ready rifle.
“This is absurd, you’re having elementary kids sell your AR-15. Why?” Chilton said. “I highly doubt that something would happen with the gun, but say it did. Say one of the kids in the high school got a hold of it — got the AR-15 or AM-15 and shot up a school with it, and I’m the one that sold the raffle ticket to his dad?”
Chilton said in July she received an email saying that all the members of the cheer team would be required to sell five AM-15 raffle tickets and five gift basket raffle tickets for $10 each to help raise money for the football and cheer programs.
“I can’t see them selling some type of semi-automatic rifle when we have all these mass shootings going on, going door to door,” she said.
She said she took her concerns to Robert Wooten, president of New Richmond Junior Lions Football Inc.
FOX19 also spoke to him on the phone. He said being a father of five, he understands the concerns the parents have. He said to ease some of the worries, he has provided parents options not to sell raffle tickets for the gun.
“They are not obligated. They are not required to participate in the gun raffle. We do suggest it," Wooten said. “We recommend it just because the money we receive is obviously needed for us to continue to provide sports for our community.”
Wooten said the nonprofit organization has been selling raffle tickets for a rifle for the past four years. Last year he said the organization was forced to spend $4,000 for insurance and equipment.
Chilton said even though her daughter is opting out of the fundraiser this year, she still doesn’t feel comfortable that other team members will be selling gun raffle tickets.
“With me doing this, I’m teaching the girls they have to stand up for what they believe," she said. "This is something that they shouldn’t even have to worry about dealing with or even be around.”
The president of the the league said that whoever wins the raffle will have to pass FBI background checks before the person receives the gun.
He also said that although the league has been doing the same raffle for the past four years, they are considering making changes next year.