"It seems like an eternity since I took my first spin around the dance floor with a gentleman who uses a wheelchair. I have been a ballroom dancer for many years, and have always loved the brilliance of movement, the music, and the partnership. The encounter proved to be creative and exciting, and as much fun as any other dance experience that I’ve ever had. I am not a stranger to disabilities. My daughter, Jenna, was diagnosed with Friedreich’s Ataxia at the age of 11. As a child, Jenna had an enormous amount of energy and curiosity for the world around her. Despite her disability, she continued to do all of the things that she loved, including dance. My experiences dancing with my first partner and the inspiration from my daughter, made me realize that this style of dancing had the extraordinary power to bring the abled-bodied and disabled worlds together. We realized that a curriculum of established steps needed to be created in order for this type of dancing to be used socially. We teamed up with a talented ballroom dance teacher, and over a period of a couple years, the Wheel One™ Wheelchair Ballroom and Latin Dance Curriculum was created. In order to promote and fund the activity in the United States, I co-founded a non-profit organization called American DanceWheels Foundation Inc. (ADF). This marked the concrete beginning for social wheelchair dancing and competitive Wheelchair Latin and Ballroom DanceSport within the United States. Since then, ADF has trained children and adults using power and manual chairs in a variety of different settings, including dance studios, public schools, universities, rehabilitation centers, hospitals, children’s camps, community outreach programs, and more! Our dancers have even had the opportunity to represent the United States of America in the World Paralympic Wheelchair DanceSport Championships. The best part of dancing is that it is wonderful and real for both standing and seated dancers, giving families, lovers, and friends a whole new way to connect and have a great time with one another. In 2007, Jenna passed away of heart complications from her disorder. She remains the heart and soul of American DanceWheels Foundation."
Executive Director, American DanceWheels Foundation Inc.