The dance team volunteered at the Special Olympics for the second year in a row at Villanova University on Saturday, Nov 5. The team worked both the long-distance running event and the volleyball game.
As a club sport, the dance team is required to do two community service projects a year. This event in particular holds a special place in the dancers’ hearts.
“We spend time playing a sport with a bunch of children or adults that have special needs like Autism, Down syndrome, Cystic Fibrosis and many other forms of intellectual differences,” Jenna LoMenzo, sophomore elementary/special education major, said. “We dance with them, laugh with them and have an absolute blast doing something that means everything to these people. It means a lot to the dance team too because most of us on the team are special education or education majors.”
“I love doing these kinds of events,” captain Lauren Bariglio, senior elementary/special education major, said. “I actually got to cheer for some of the boys that I work with in our Council for Exceptional Children Club on campus. It was nice to see familiar faces who have struggled growing up due to their disabilities, doing something they enjoy and having fun.”
The dance team also attends other events throughout the year that mean a lot to them. Every year the dancers look forward to performing at two Philadelphia Phillies games. In September, the team gets the opportunity to perform in front of thousands of people at Citizens Bank Park for the Cabrini Night at the Phillies tradition. Then, they are invited back in April to perform at the stadium once again.
Being that many of the members are from the tri-state area, the Phillies certainly hold a place in their hearts. Getting the opportunity to perform during a Phillies game is very important and memorable for them since most of the dancers have been dancing and performing their entire lives. For them, it is a dream come true.
“My whole life I never imagined I’d ever get the chance to dance at a baseball game in front of thousands of people,” LoMenzo said. “It was amazing and I will never, ever forget that experience. Especially sharing it with girls I’d bend over backwards for any day.”
Throughout the year, the dancers perform at smaller events but they’re just as important as any other performance. The team looks forward to dancing at festivals, professional competitions, home basketball games and a show at West Chester University.
“One of our off-campus events is dancing at a show at West Chester University,” Bariglio said. “We look forward to this show every year because it gives the team an opportunity to perform on stage with lights, costumes and full makeup as well as in front of a different audience.”
“The girls are amazing and we always have each other’s backs,” LoMenzo said. “Like any sisters we fight, laugh, eat and cry. We do everything together especially for the amount of time we spend together, which is a lot. In the end, nothing beats the smiles on our faces when we are dancing together.”
Tryouts for the dance team are held in the spring and fall. Students who are interested in auditioning for the dance team for next year should contact Lauren Bariglio by email at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.