The second annual dance show fundraiser is April 5.
Lauren Carlson, a freshman at the Trinity Preparatory School, comes from a graceful family.
From her own near-decade spent in dance competitions to her mother’s time as a gymnast and even her sister’s burgeoning dance career, Carlson’s family is often defined by precise motion.
Carlson’s grandfather Charles DeBord no longer shares that trait. Charles, 78, has had Parkinson’s Disease, the degenerative brain disease from which one loses control of motor and vocal functions, for the past 23 years.
Although Lauren always has remembered her grandfather living with the disease, it has slowly grown worse to the point that he is no longer able to speak or move without the assistance of his wife, Louise DeBord. Louise prepares Charles’ meals, helps him stand up and places him in his wheelchair.
“I’ve seen the impact it’s had on my grandmother; she’s his primary caretaker,” Carlson said. “I’ve witnessed what it does to her, (and) it wanted me to make sure no other family goes through that. … We used to have birthday (parties) and he’d open cards and tear up a little bit but couldn’t really say anything we could understand. He’d always be a little frustrated by that.”
Last year, Carlson, alongside her mother Denise, her dance teacher Tamara Duvall and teachers at Trinity Prep, organized the “Dancing for Parkinson’s” dance show at Trinity Prep as way to help find a cure for the disease and to raise awareness of the caretakers helping those suffering from the condition. A number of Central Florida dance companies and solo performers volunteered to put on numbers at the inaugural show.
The then-14-year-old was hopeful to raise $1,000 from the show. She ended up receiving nearly $5,000. One-hundred percent of the funds were directed to the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research.
On Friday, April 5, Carlson and the Dancing for Parkinson’s show will return at the Trinity Prep auditorium with new dance teams, new routines and a special performance from a dance class of Parkinson’s patients from the AdventHealth Orlando hospital.
Bigger and Better
Carlson had one significant advantage when recruiting talent for her dance show — the many dance studios, companies and friends with which she has connected with since she began competitively dancing at 6 years old. Nine dance companies and groups have volunteered to put on a number of choreographed dance numbers at the 90-minute show.
Erik Silky Moore and Shelby Ratchford Sweet, two of Carlson’s former teachers, will be putting on special performances, as well. It’s a validating and nostalgic moment for Carlson — she’s been able to see how her friends and colleagues have progressed.
“I haven’t been able to speak with Silky a lot until recently; it was good reconnecting with them,” Carlson said. “It was nice seeing the progress of people I knew have made.”
The piece Carlson is most excited for this year is the production from Dr. Suzanne Salapa and AdventHealth’s “Movement as Medicine” dance class. Salapa will speak about how dance and creative movement can positively affect Parkinson’s Disease, and then the show will feature a dance number from people battling Parkinson’s Disease.
While the various organizations have been putting together their dance numbers, Carlson has organized the event and is currently putting together an order for TeamFox T-shirts for the dancers. This year’s show also will have a silent auction with gifts donated from local businesses.
Carlson said she is falling into a managerial role with the show — she’s becoming more involved with musical theatre at her school and won’t be dancing herself this year — but is happy to say her younger sister, Brooke, is interested in picking up the mantle when she grows older.
“It can get kind of stressful to remember all these things that most 15-year-olds don’t have to keep straight,” she said. “But it feels good I’m able to serve my community. I want to see what I can do in the future.”
This particular adventure always will be special for Carlson — it has been the first time she can remember that her grandfather watched her dance. She said he had tears in his eyes.
IF YOU GO: Second Annual Dancing for Parkinson’s
WHEN: 7 p.m. Friday, April 5
WHERE: Trinity Preparatory School, 5700 Trinity Prep Lane, Winter Park
DONATION AND TICKETS: fundraise.michaeljfox.org/tf-2019/danceforpd
Be Dance Company
Dialects Dance Theatre
Duvall Dance Academy
Xtreme Dance Studio
AdventHealth’s “Movement as Medicine” class
NoMads Dance Group
Guest Performance by Shelby Ratchford Sweet
Guest Performance by Erik Silky Moore