Dance Marathon features exceptional Alabama Bright Lights

Dance Marathon features exceptional Alabama Bright Lights
Let the good times and good music roll! Dance class is in - the Exceptional Foundation prepares for an exceptional night of dancing with the Dance Marathon. (Karim Shamshi-Basha)

Events this weekend at the Exceptional Foundation will rival “Dancing with the Stars,” but the stars dancing will be different from the widely known television show dancers. These stars have hearts of gold, the innocence of children, and needs that are very special. They are the exceptional participants at the Exceptional Foundation in Homewood.

The Dance Marathon taking place at the Exceptional Foundation this weekend features ballroom dancing shows, competitions and workshops.

“The purpose of this weekend is to raise awareness for ballroom dancing in the Birmingham area, and to raise money for the Exceptional Foundation. People are coming from all over the country, and our exceptional participants will dance as well,” Exceptional Foundation President Tricia Kirk said.

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There will be a dance Friday night with a live band. Saturday will have plenty of workshops and classes from over 20 dance teachers donating their time.

There is another dance on Saturday night with a silent auction. One of the highly sought items is a football signed by Alabama football coach Nick Saban.

Sunday there will be a ballroom dancing competition.

“The Exceptional Foundation is the most fun place in the entire world. We provide social and recreational activities for our clients, who come and fall in love and make friends and feel included. We serve over 600 people. It’s basically heaven on Earth,” Kirk said.

Established in 1993, the Exceptional Foundation is a nonprofit organization for individuals with special needs age 21 or older who no longer receive services from schools. Programs include field trips, team sports and various social events.

This Dance Marathon has taken place at the Exceptional Foundation for 15 years.

“This amazing event is put on by the Birmingham dance community. Through all the workshops, exhibitions and dance events, the community will learn about the Exceptional Foundation and the incredible work they do on a daily basis,” Wendy Johnson, president of Dance Marathon Company, said.

This weekend promises much joy for participants and audience alike, which is what Dance Marathon instructor and competition judge Madelyn Crosby seeks.

Letting the good times and good music roll – getting in a few practice sessions for the Dance Marathon. (Karim Shamshi-Basha)

“I am so excited to be participating in this Dance Marathon. During the Friday night dinner and live band, the instructors will do an impromptu performance. It will be a fun-packed weekend, and whether you’re a dancing fan or not, there are plenty of other events,” Crosby said.

Crosby joins the other organizers of the Dance Marathon in looking forward to raising money for the Dance Foundation, as well as spreading the joy dancing brings to everyone.

“I started teaching dance because it brings joy for everyone. You cannot but have joy if you’re dancing,” Crosby said. “Lots of love and joy, that’s what this weekend is all about. Dancing spreads happiness.”

When asked why she participates in this event, Johnson’s answer summed up the entire story.

“I do this for the love of dance, and for the love of helping our fellow man,” Johnson said.

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Alabama Bright Lights captures the stories, through words, pictures and video, of some of our state’s brightest lights who are working to make Alabama an even better place to live, work and play. Award-winning journalist Karim Shamsi-Basha tells their inspiring stories. Email him comments, as well as suggestions on people to profile, at [email protected]

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