By KIM BUNCH HOGGARD
AHOSKIE – It was an event with a very appropriate name.
The Easter Seals UCP Happy Hearts Dance was Feb. 18 where parents, staff and attendees truly displayed very happy hearts with their gleeful faces and joyful actions. Laughter and music filled the beautifully decorated facility. White lights adorned the doors to illuminate the room. Valentine decorations hung from the ceiling and were carefully dispersed on walls and tables.
The clients of the Ahoskie-based Easter Seals UCP, adults with intellectual/developmental disabilities and students from the After School program for students with special needs, attended the dance. They baked, packaged, and delivered cookie grams to fund their Happy Hearts Valentine Dance. They raised over $600 from the sale and delivery of 350 cookie grams. Easters Seals UCP management would like to thank the Ahoskie First Baptist Church for kindly letting them use their kitchen to prepare the cookies.
The dance began with the attendees walking in on a red carpet that started outside on the sidewalk and extended inside the building. Everyone was dressed in formal attire….ladies wore long gowns and gentlemen wore suits or dress shirts and ties. All of the adults and one high school student who attend ES/UCP had a date with the exception of one, Garrett Magette….he had two dates (Miller Bryant and Katie Futrell).
DJ Jason Hopkin benevolently offered his services for the dance, playing popular songs such as Wip and Nay Nay and Soulja Boy. The manager of WRCS-AM radio station announced on-air that he would donate free advertisement time for any DJ who would volunteer their time for the Happy Hearts Dance. Hopkins kindly responded and offered his time.
The dance had over 50 attendants, including participants in the ES/UCP programs, new prospective clients, parents and volunteers. Participants from the ES/UCP Parent Support Group donated refreshments.
Before the dance, management and paraprofessionals took the ladies from the program to get manicures and the gentlemen to have their nails clipped and to get corsages and flowers for their dates. Cole Magette, attendant of the adult program, assisted with photography in the Happy Hearts Photo Booth which was charmingly decorated with fun props on hand for patrons to embellish their attire with.
ES/UCP adult clients were interviewed after the dance relating their thoughts about the dance. Tellisha Moore said she loved the pretty black dress she wore with her gray shoes; enjoyed eating the meatballs and pizza, and meeting new people who may start coming to the program. Tellisha also said she felt special when her date gave her a box of candy and told her she looked nice. Jennifer Burden said she loved dancing to Wobble Baby, dancing with her date, Marshall, and having her dad come to watch and video the event.
Marshall Holloway said he loved dancing “The Stinky Leg”, being with his friends – Garrett, Cole, Mike, Jennifer, and Kim who he said had a good heart. Marshall also said he loved watching Sarah Grace dance and seeing his parents slow dance when they came to pick him up.
Cole Magette said he loved having his mom and dad, and his sister and brother there and having Anna Greene for his date. Garrett Magette said he was happy he was crowned king and wore his crown around the house for several days after the dance and he loved having two dates.
Passion Wilkins, of the EC/UCP After School program, said she loved getting dressed up and dancing with her date Daquan. She loved the decorations and the Michael Jackson songs. She said she especially enjoyed being able to use some dance moves she has learned in her dance class.
High school student Daquan Williams from the ES/UCP Aftrschool program said he loved dancing to Chris Brown songs, eating cupcakes and chicken, the black pants and blue striped shirt he wore, and break dancing to Butterfly by Michael Jackson. Stephen Hill said he had fun with his date, Ashley Tuttle.
It was a perfect evening filled with dancing, dining and good conversation. The only two females in the adult program tied for queen and Garrett Magette was elected king.
This program is going very well and is offering services and opportunities for people who could not attend events such as this before. What a breath of fresh air Sarah Grace Britton and Kedra Futrell of Easter Seals UCP have brought to this area.