A Cheery Little Tale

It took her a little longer than she'd hoped, but a Baltimore woman has finally achieved her lifelong dream of becoming an NFL cheerleader -- at age 38.

Molly Shattuck, a former college cheerleader and now the mother of three children younger than 7, had come up with a list of 10 things she wanted to do before she died -- "cheer for the NFL" was on it.

But after marriage and then kids, the dream was pushed aside. Plus, "When I moved to Baltimore, they didn't have a team," she recalled. "And when they finally got a team and a squad, I was either pregnant or nursing during tryouts."

Finally this year Shattuck got her chance to do the month-long audition -- and made the final cut: "I was thrilled. I cried." But what about the kids? For the two practice nights a week, a babysitter takes over at home. "I miss putting them to bed twice a week, but I almost always prepare their meal ahead of time," she noted. And her husband, Constellation Energy President and CEO Mayo Shattuck? "He's incredibly supportive," she said. "He goes to games with his binoculars, video camera and digital camera."

According to a team spokeswoman, the average age for Ravens cheerleaders this year is 23. Shattuck's seniority hasn't gone unnoticed. "I can't tell you how many letters I've received from people that I don't know that say, 'You are such an inspiration,' " she said. "I had no idea of the impact this would have. I was just going out to be a cheerleader and do something I love."

Shattuck will perform at the Ravens' preseason home game tonight against the Redskins.

A Sweet Reward

Root for the local baker! Oh, wait -- there are a bunch of them in the competition. Three of the four wedding cake finalists for this year's "Today" show wedding are from Maryland.

The contenders include Leslie Poyourow of Fancy Cakes by Leslie in Gaithersburg, Jamie Williams of SugarBakers in Catonsville, and Duff Goldman of Charm City Cakes in Baltimore. The lone non-local cake was created by Charmaine Jones of CakeDiva in Hoboken, N.J. The winner will bake his or her design for the Sept. 16 wedding of Solomons Island residents Mark Dale, 26, and Sarah Raley, 23.

On July 22, the comely couple won the chance to have "Today" viewers choose their wedding details -- a dress, tuxedo, wedding rings, etc. -- and the cake is the next choice on the menu.

So what's with all the bakers from Maryland? Goldman noted the obvious geographic proximity to the couple's nuptials, to be held in Stevensville, and said, "No matter who wins, I think it's really awesome for this region to be highlighted."

Williams agreed, saying, "There's a lot of talent in Maryland." Poyourow, whose brown and pink cake earned an "It's very good" from the groom-to-be, said she's just "very thankful" for the experience.

Voting for the cake began Tuesday, and a winner will be announced tomorrow.

End Note

Former "Newlyweds" stars Jessica Simpson and Nick Lachey will sing "America the Beautiful" as part of a national tribute to 9/11 at FedEx Field on Sept. 11. The performance is set to take place before the Redskins game against the Chicago Bears and will be broadcast on CBS and Fox, and at eight other games that day.

-- Compiled by Korin Miller

from staff and wire reports

Molly Shattuck, a Baltimore Ravens cheerleader at age 38.Nick Lachey and Jessica Simpson will be at FedEx Field on Sept. 11.