For the past 2 years, National Dance Foundation has been working with fellow nonprofit LUV Michael to raise awareness for autistic adults and give dance studio owners and students real-world fundraising experience.
“Partnering with LUV Michael has been inspiring,” explains NDF Executive Director Cathy Graziano. “First, it works with every aspect of our #KIC mission with tangible results. Second, for every dollar raised, it provides work hours for Autistic Adults and is an education for the students participating in their school's fundraising as they learn about giving back.”
LUV Michael was formed in 2015 around Michael Kessaris, a 17-year-old man on the autism spectrum who had a passion for cooking by his mother Dr. Lisa Liberatore. All of LUV Michael’s high quality organic, gluten-free and nut-free granola products are made by individuals on the spectrum from start to finish. The nonprofit is committed to creating and providing meaningful culinary jobs to the Autistic population. Donations and purchases allow for the training, education and employment of individuals on the autism spectrum and help improve their lives beyond the lives of their parents.
“As a parent and founder of LUV Michael, it means so much that NDF shares the same values of kindness, inclusion and community (#KIC),” says Dr. Liberatore. “As partners in this message, we are making both of our organizations stronger.”
Several of NDF’s Committee Members and Proud Partners were the first to have had success with this joint fundraising effort including Geo Hubela of Icon Dance Complex who raised $42,630 and Julie KayStallup of Dance Dynamics who raised $12,317.
“It was so organized, and the parents were just blown away at how easy it was and how good we felt doing it for such a great cause,” expressed Stallup in a video testimonial about the studio’s successful fundraiser. “We can’t wait to do it again and to help families that might be having a harder time. It’s playing it forward and students can use it for volunteer service hours which is very important.”
Currently, many dance studios from across the nation are participating in this important fundraising partnership between NDF and LUV Michael that gives 50% of the money raised to each team, is 100% online and is completed in just seven days.
Each participant at a studio gets their own customizable campaign page that they can add a profile picture, note or video. LUV Michael also provides fundraisers with a few suggested messages to share with family and friends to help spread the word about the campaign, autism acceptance and the mission at LUV Michael. Luv Michael then donates 5% of every fundraiser to NDF to support NDF's mission.
Finally, donors to the fundraiser receive a handwritten thank you card and some of the all-natural granola prepared in LUV Michael’s state-of-the-art bakery by individuals on the Autism spectrum shipped right to their door.
To learn more about how your studio or dance team can create a
“Share the LUV” fundraising campaign, please visit: https://nationaldancefoundation.org/luvmichaelfundraising/ ---------------------- National Dance Week Throwback Thursdays - Celebrity Spokespeople Remembered Series By Anthony DiPasquale August 24 2023
As part of National Dance Foundation’s NDW Throwback Thursdays, we are celebrating the impressive roster of celebrity spokespeople who lent their time and effort to promote National Dance Week over the decades. It all started in 1994 when former United Dance Merchants of America President Marianne Prinkey became the first National Chairperson for NDW. According to one of NDW’s founding members Nancy Stone, “Under Prinkey’s direction and together with a steering committee, the NDW movement was taken to a new realm of recognition. That new direction included a NDW sponsored program where some of the most impressive celebrities in our field would become spokespersons for NDW.” Back in 1994, the first of NDW’s Celebrity Spokespeople was the groundbreaking dancer, singer and actress Chita Rivera. She has had an incredible career that began in the 1950s and continues to this day but is best known for originating roles in Broadway musicals including Anita in West Side Story, Velma Kelly in Chicago and the title role in Kiss of the Spider Woman. When it comes to an innovator of inclusion, it’s hard to find a dancer luminary that has done more than Rivera who is the first Hispanic American to receive a Kennedy Center Honor and be a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Other accolades include being a ten-time Tony Award nominee and three-time Tony Award recipient with one for Lifetime Achievement. It was so amazing to have had Rivera be NDW’s inaugural spokesperson, and almost 30 years later we still can’t thank her enough for believing in NDW and its pursuit to promote dance and its mission of Kindness, Inclusion and Community.(photo is of 1994 NDW promotional pamphlet)
She credits the efforts of Howard Weissman and the committee comprised of Susan Wershing, Thighe King and Susan Epstein for suggesting that National Dance Week come under the wing of UDMA. “They in turn asked Terlizzi and Stern to join them and the basic premise was maintained and kept alive through the combined efforts of this committee.”
It was in 1994 that Marianne Prinkey, a former president of UDMA agreed to assume the role of National Chairperson for National Dance Week and “together with a steering committee, took the National Dance Week movement to a new realm of recognition,” remembered Stone. “It was under Prinkey’s direction that National Dance Week sponsored a program where some of the most impressive celebrities in our field would become spokespersons for National Dance Week.”
Some of the dance luminaries that worked with National Dance Week starting in 1994 included Chita Rivera, Gregory Hines, Paula Abdul, Debbie Allen and the Radio City Rockettes to name just a few.
Over the decades, Stone admits there were some highs and lows for National Dance Week but the organization continued to move forward including publishing Barre Food in 2010, a cookbook with over 200 recipes from dance companies, dance suppliers and dance luminaries that is still available on Amazon today.
Very significantly, it was in 2011 when what we now know as National Dance Foundation - NDF became a 501C3 non-profit organization with an appointed board of directors. “It was our first time having a board rather than volunteers that cared about dance and National Dance Week.”
That first board included Chairman of the Board-Nancy Stone, Co- Chairman- Anneliese Wilson, Secretary – Sue Gordon, Treasurer-Diane Sheilbley, Board Members: Donna Mueller, and Susan Epstien. And it was in 2012 that Cathy Graziano was named Executive Director.
As we have grown, some of our former board members have retired or become Honorary Board Members, and we have moved on to expanding our board” Stone concluded. “A few old timers still exist but we are getting new, young people involved and the future is very bright and we have just begun!”NDF’s current board consists of Nancy Stone as Chair, Mark Biondi as Co-Chair, Emily Rossetti as Secretary/ Treasurer and Board Members: Tiffany Prout-Leitao Katie Gatlin, Geo Hubela, Julie Kay Stallcup and Erika Hogan.
Today’s year-round NDF and National Dance Week activities include:
Pregame NBA PerformancesGiving everyone a chance to dance especially special needs dancersProud Partners Initiative Studios working together with NDF to encourage Kindness, Inclusion and CommunityStudent Ambassador ProgramHelping students earn community service hours through dance.LUV Michael PartnershipSupporting Autistic Community while fundraising for your studio or organization Scholarship OpportunitiesNational Dance Week Celebration April 19-28 2023Dance MobShout OutPoster and Essay ContestKindness Inclusion Pledge
For more information how you can get involved, please visit www.nationaldancefoundation.org