LEROY – They are full of creativity and imagination and ready to take on the world.

But four Pine River Destination ImagiNation teams need financial support to make their dreams come true.

After taking first or second place in the DI state competition April 21, three high school teams and one middle school team were invited to compete in the global competition in Knoxville, Tenn., May 23-26.

Team members needs to raise $5,000 for the trip, and plan to do so through donations and fundraisers, including a celebrity server event from 4:30-8:30 p.m. May 16 at Mr. Pibbs restaurant in LeRoy.

“We’d love to see the community come out and support these kids and all the hard work they’ve done in the last seven months,” said Terry Cosgrove, Destination Imagination program director at Pine River schools.

The middle school Assembly Required team, and high school News to Me improv team, Assembly Required team and Fine Arts Coming Attraction teams will board a charter bus to make the 566-mile trip.

The total cost of the trip for the 33 students will be around $22,000, but much has already been covered by what is left over from the annual $10,000 given to the program by the school board, leftover funds from last year, donations from individuals as well as money gained through fundraisers already completed this year.

“This is a great group of students. They work hard and so do their coaches,” said Pine River schools district superintendent Jim Ganger. “The district is supportive of the program and the coaches. We will work hard to make sure their fundraisers are successful.”

Destination ImagiNation is a world-wide program that encourages imagination and creative problem solving among students in preschool through twelfth grade. Groups of students are given one of seven challenges and have to solve a problem through a skit and engineering.

“The students put in so much time and work,” Cosgrove said. “They started in November and many of them practiced three times a week.”

Each team has seven members and a parent or school staff member as a coach. Students work together to create skits, backgrounds and props to creatively complete their challenge. They are encouraged to break away from traditional problem solving methods.

“With all the testing students are exposed to in the academic year, this gives them an opportunity to expand (their

horizons),” Cosgrove said.

Students are asked to think critically to successfully complete challenges, such as create a structure that contains golfballs and supports as much weight as possible, create and act out a movie trailer involving two countries, or create an improv skit in four minutes combining two ideas and having characters with needles as legs.

Pine River students have a history of success in the program. Last year, a middle school team competed in the structure challenge and took first place at the state competition and 26th place out of 70 teams at the global competition.

The school has never seen four of its teams advance to the global competition in one year, Cosgrove said.

Many students in the DI program have been involved from the time they were very young and have grown up in the program, which is one of the reasons Cosgrove said the Pine River teams are so successful.

Cosgrove said excitement is building around the district as a whole, as DI participants count down the days before they compete against students from 110 other countries in the creative competition into which they’ve put so much work.

“It’s just like the love people have for a sport,” Cosgrove said. “They have that love for this program too.”

To support the team, individuals can donate by calling the school at (231) 829-4065 or attend the celebrity server event from 4:30 to 8:30 p.m. May 16 at Mr. Pibbs restaurant in LeRoy.