Bedford grad follows Disney dreams in best friend’s memoryWritten by Danielle Stanton | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Bree Elwartoski and Lauren Yates were best friends – soul friends – who did everything together. They even had plans after graduation to become Disney princesses at Disney World in Orlando, Florida.
The Bedford Township residents called themselves the “Bedford Princesses” and dreamed of dancing in Orlando with “Dance of the World,” where thousands of dancers gyrate in a parade through the Magic Kingdom.
Miss Lori Dance Express in Temperance, the dance studio where both girls belonged, plans to participate in the program June 24 but tragically Yates will not be there. The 18-year-old senior lost her battle with cancer in December and will not be with her best friend as Elwartoski dances at Disney or auditions to be a Disney princess.
“We’ve always been Disney children. We broke out in song all the time and tried to have the happiest outlook we could,” Bree told Toledo Free Press June 18. “When she got sick, we called her our little princess. She was the most positive thing out of this whole experience. She was a princess and a warrior at the same time.
“Disney is close to home. A lot of us are older but we’re all Disney children at heart. This is almost like us saying … almost like a last goodbye. We ended our year and everybody is here, including Lauren, and she’ll be there with us, we know.”
Lauren was the third Bedford Public Schools student to die during the 2013-14 school year.
Freshman Kelsey Koepfler died after being struck by a car in September and senior football player Colton Durbin died in October when the car he was driving struck a garbage truck. When Lauren died, it hit students that much harder.
“Our little town has been through quite the heartbreak this year,” Elwartoski said. “[Dance the World] is a sigh of relief things are going to be OK. We can still have good even though bad things happen.”
Elwartoski is leaving June 20 for Orlando where she will be among 8,000 girls from dance studios across North America who will don fiber optic princess-like costumes and parade down Main Street USA and Hollywood Studios on the Disney World lot performing jazz-like dance moves.
“Our studio is the first studio in the parade,” Bree said. “We’ll be holding the banner. It’s a big honor.”
Dancers come to Orlando from all over the United States, Canada and Mexico for “Dance the World” which happens June 24-27 and June 29 to July 2. Disney sends the dance studios a video with the choreographed moves months in advance. Miss Lori Dance Express started learning the moves in September.
“It’s a noncompetitive performance,” said Matt Schaeffer, director of events for World Class Vacations, the travel company that organizes “Dance the World.” “Everyone gives their personal best and everyone has a great time. It’s all about fun.”
Three years ago, Elwartoski recalled, she was not able to attend “Dance The World” due to financial reasons but this year being her senior year, her parents allowed for it, she said.
“I’m thrilled to be going,” she said.
On June 26, Bree will follow the dream she and her best friend held for years as she auditions for a Disney princess position at the park. But if things don’t turn out the way she wants in Florida, she plans to attend the University of Toledo studying nursing in the fall.
“There’s an open call for auditions and we just happen to be there and a friend are I are going to check it out and hope for the best,” Elwartoski said. “Hopefully, I’ll be moving to Florida to be a princess.”
For more information on “Dance the World,” visit www.wcv.com/dance-world.