Twylite Thursday charity event to benefit Ability CenterWritten by Paige Shermis | | firstname.lastname@example.org
The Pinnacle will host an outdoor charity event from 5-8 p.m. June 6 benefiting the Ability Center of Greater Toledo.
Three members of the Dancing Wheels Company, based in Cleveland, will perform from 6:30-6:45 p.m. This “professional integrated dance company” consists of both wheelchair and nonwheelchair dancers and was founded by Mary Verdi-Fletcher, the first professional wheelchair dancer in the United States.
“It’s going to be pretty neat,” said Ability Center Events Coordinator Amy Kerchevall of the dance. “We ask our donors to come as well as local businesses to come, and the Pinnacle does a lot of publicity.”
The event, part of its Twylite Thursdays series, is open to the public and will include a cash bar, hors d’oeuvres special drinks and live entertainment. Admission is $10, which covers the food and entertainment as well as a donation.
Verdi-Fletcher, one of the dancers who will perform, has an extensive background in dance, arts management, rehabilitation and arts advocacy. She has trained with The Cleveland Ballet and with other professional choreographers.
The Dancing Wheels last performed in Toledo in 2004. Verdi-Fletcher will return to Toledo in November as a keynote speaker as part of the Ability Center’s community education series.
The Dancing Wheels, whose full troupe consists of 13 members, performs to current music and will provide a “sampling” of its full show at the Twylite benefit, Verdi-Fletcher said. Their history is rooted in Verdi-Fletcher’s desire to dance despite her spina bifida.
“As I was growing up, my mother was a professional dancer and my father was a musician. I really wanted to follow in my mother’s footsteps and wanted to dance, but there weren’t any dance programs available or classes available for children or adults in wheelchairs,” Verdi-Fletcher said. “For a lot of years, I had that desire to dance. In the 1980s … I started to experiment with some of my nondisabled friends that were good dancers. We put a routine together and entered the ‘Dance Fever’ competition and we were chosen as alternates to go to California. There was no social media at the time, but [there was] immediate interest and success, and people wanted performances all over the country. I did 72 performances in a year. Then, we became affiliated with The Cleveland Ballet.”
Further entertainment will be provided by Jason LaPorte, an acoustic musician.
The Twylite Thursday events are sponsored by The Pinnacle in conjunction with local nonprofits to highlight the Ability Center and raise money and awareness. They occur each Thursday evening from May through September.
“Everyone should experience something new and innovative … and if they haven’t seen it before, it is certainly something that will brighten their knowledge and inspire them,” Verdi-Fletcher said.