Dance Troupe To Perform At Special Olympics World Games
It’s hard to contain the excitement now brewing among the 13 Heartbeat dancers and their parents.
The special-needs dance troupe — including two Mililani High students and one alumnus — has been invited to perform at the July opening of the 2015 Special Olympics World Games in Los Angeles.
“We are so very proud of our kids,” said Abraleen Keliinui, parent of Heartbeat dancer and Castle High graduate Natasha Brice, 23. “In the meantime, we are fundraising like crazy and trying to get the word out.”
Created by former Miss Hawaii sisters Ashley and Jonelle Layfield, Heartbeat consists of individuals with intellectual disabilities, but there’s nothing lacking in their hearts and commitment to perform.
Keliinui cited the experience of watching her own daughter blossom from what started as “just physical activity and socialization.”
“They’ve adjusted to the change of instructors and learned to adapt. They can wait their turn for hours (backstage). We parents think it’s easy, but it’s not. We tried to learn one song, and I gave up!”
The dancers rehearse at 24-VII DanceForce studio at Windward Mall. But their appeal for funds covers the whole state.
Parents have planned more benefits and dance opportunities, such as Pizza Hut nights April 15, May 25, June 10 and July 6. (To obtain the required flier for your orders, call 554-1410.)
Heartbeat also will perform at Peter’s Prom, set for 6 p.m. April 17 at Hawaii Okinawa Center.
Heartbeat parent Dee Ferrick of Mililani is wearing two hats this month, since she’s also executive director and coordinator of the prom for teens with disabilities. Now in its fourth year, she said the all-volunteer event attracted attendees from 13 high schools last year.
“It’s truly a community effort and one of which I’m very proud,” said Ferrick, whose daughter Chelsea and fellow Trojans Marly Garces and Kenji Momohara dance with Heartbeat. “We invite all students with special needs from any high school on Oahu. They can invite their parents, caregiver, therapist or a friend who does not have special needs.”
Theme this year is “A Hollywood Extravaganza,” complete with star treatment on a red carpet for the guests. For more information on the prom, call 627-1959.
To learn how to support Heartbeat’s $32,000 trip to Los Angeles, call Renee Jung at 255-4305 or by emailing her at firstname.lastname@example.org.