posttrib
DISRUPTIVE 
Weather Updates

‘Livin’ It Up’ benefits special Olympians

storyidforme: 33047558
tmspicid: 833338
fileheaderid: 613644

Updated: August 6, 2012 11:41AM



“Possibility of scattered thunderstorms Friday, Saturday and Sunday” said the weather forecast.

And Friday, suddenly, out of nowhere, the winds howled and the rain came down sideways. Then, on Sunday afternoon, a sunny sky turned dark in minutes, and the whirling winds brought a furious downpour.

But Saturday was sunny all day, and clear all evening. That is because Saturday was the “Livin’ It Up” fundraiser at Sunset Hill Farm County Park, with proceeds going to Porter County Special Olympics.

Many of us believe that heaven sends a special blessing when we ask for special consideration for our special athletes. So, what could have been a “washout” was instead a great day with activities and plenty of music to keep everyone happy.

Aside from the best of bands, there were several things throughout the day that made it unique. The PCSO cheerleading squad, coached by Valparaiso High School junior Caitlyn Gear, performed a delightful routine, and their beaming smiles said, “Hey, we love doing this, and we’re good at it.”

Amanda Lines and Katy Kelly, Special Olympics athlete leaders, got up on the stage at different times to thank everyone who made the day possible, and let spectators know how important Special Olympics has been for them, and what a difference it has made in their lives to help people understand the importance of their program.

Disc jockey (and Special Olympics athlete) Andy Petrovich had many people up and dancing with the Macerena, “Y.M.C.A.” and the chicken dance.

Just at the start of the fireworks, athlete Michael Byerly overwhelmed the entire crowd with his beautiful rendition of the Star Spangled Banner, while everyone roared their American spirit. The fireworks that followed by Badaboom were so great, I hated to see them end.

A highlight of the afternoon for me, and many others, was the spectacular dance routines by Eclipse Performing Arts students. The studio owner, Michele Brown, asked a group of her dancers if they would be willing to perform at the fest, and they all said, “Yes!”

The 20 young people who came are all superb dancers, and will be on their way to national competition July 18-23. That they were all eager to take time from their grueling practice schedule on a hot Saturday afternoon to perform had me speechless.

Their routines included all styles of dancing, including tap, ballet, hip-hop, and lyrical, and their professionalism was fantastic.

In talking to Amy Bauer, a mom of one of the dancers, and the volunteer competition secretary, she noted that every one of the youngsters had already been at practice for three hours that morning.

“But,” she added, “they all love to perform.”

And, boy, did they. These young talents all qualified for regionals, which were held at Showstoppers in Aurora, Ill., where more than 700 dancers competed to earn the trip to Anaheim.

What a thrill for them, their instructors and families to be chosen. Some of these kids are so outstanding, they even were asked to audition for “America’s Got Talent.”

Two young men are part of the 20
qualifiers — 6-year-old Kai M., and 18-year-old Eric N., who will be attending college in hopes of teaching hearing impaired children.

The young ladies who will be in California next week are Carolyn B., Ellery B., Alyssa C., Holly H., Barbara H., Kaci K., Grace L., Katie M., Dhemi M., and Lauren T. in the mini-dance troupe (elementary age); Mia B., Katie N., and MacKenzie S. at the junior level; Hunter B., Kennedy B., Gigi L., Kailey M., Anna M., Aislinn M., Sofia S. and Kristen T. in the teen level, and senior, Jordan B.

Young ladies and gentlemen, all I can say is “Wow!” I hope you all come back with those beautiful smiles.

Thank you to all of you, to the marvelous bands, the car show attendees, Todd and Heather Henderlong and all the runners for supporting our athletes.

And thanks to all of you who came out to enjoy the day.

Now I hope you all have a great day because you deserve it.

Thanks for reading. Fly your flag.



© 2014 Sun-Times Media, LLC. All rights reserved. This material may not be copied or distributed without permission. For more information about reprints and permissions, visit www.suntimesreprints.com. To order a reprint of this article, click here.