As part of Dancing with the Easter Seals Stars, community leaders from across Aurora and Newmarket are learning new dance moves and raising money for children in the community with physical disabilities.
This year, when Newmarket’s Tracee Chambers was selected to participate, she knew it would take her out of her comfort zone but she wanted to help make a difference.
“I was honoured to be asked,” Chambers said. “Juliane McTavish-Goyette had submitted my name as someone who does a lot of volunteer work and likes to raise money for good causes.”
At first, Chambers was concerned about the fundraising because she doesn’t love to ask for money, especially with the cost of living these days, but she just had to remind herself that this money isn’t for her.
“I’m a mom, and my heart goes out to kids with challenges and their parents,” she said. “These wheelchairs are super expensive, and this cause is amazing and creates so much money. These wheelchairs can cost $20,000, I had a hard enough time feeding my kids and buying them skateboards when they broke them every other week.”
Chambers was raised by a mother who would always try to help those in need and as a result, it’s been her nature to volunteer and help the community, she said.
“I want to put my efforts where I can,” she said. “And when I was struggling with the fundraising, I reached out to my friends and business associates, and they stepped up and came to the rescue.”
Now that Chambers has the fundraising down, she’s focused on getting her dance moves ready. She’s been practising at Artistica Ballroom Dance Studio in Aurora.
“They volunteer professionals to help the eight of us with lessons,” said Chambers. “We’re all learning one routine and two people make the finals and the person who raises the most money.”
Taking the dance lessons and prepping for her routine has been harder than Chambers expected, she’s been taking a lesson once per week.
“My sister is a ballroom dancer, but I’ve never had a lesson in my life,” she said. “My instructor, Patrick Derry, has been incredibly patient and encouraging and calm. He’s the one who’s been getting us all going. And I’m having so much fun, it’s so exciting. The event is coming up soon, so we’re in the final days of preparation.”
The evening starts with a cocktail hour before dinner and then the dance competition begins before the night wraps up with the dance floor opening to guests.
“The funds that are raised go to these children,” she said. “One of the avenues that they go towards is paying for them to go to a camp. It’s a camp where they don’t feel different than anyone else. Everyday these kids go through a challenge and to go to a summer camp and be a kid and laugh is amazing.”
This is the eighth year of Dancing with the Easter Seals Stars and for more than 100 years Easter Seals has been supporting children with physical disabilities.
The organization provides funding for essential accessibility and mobility equipment to remove barriers and enable children and youth to experience the world on their own terms and owns and operates two industry leading camping programs, said Charlene Myke, development manager, Easter Seals.
"We are a champion for kids with physical disabilities,” said Myke. “Our goal is to break down barriers and provide the support and resources these individuals need to reach their full potential and achieve their dreams. We believe that every child, regardless of their abilities, should have the chance to overcome obstacles and make their mark on the world."
The other celebrity dancers are Sam Saberi, Pegi Reininger, Raz Khamissa, Lynnette Lanning, Cortney Cassidy, Chris Cartwright, and Bill Gianopoulos.
Dancing with Easter Seals Stars is at Oct. 5 at the Royal Venetian Mansion in Aurora, 400 Industrial Pkwy. S., beginning at 5:30 p.m. Tickets can be purchased here. You can support Chamber's fundraising initiative here.