The original purpose of Donna’s Good Things was to establish and support a dance scholarship in her name. Donna loved to dance and never wanted to miss a class. When she started, it was very clear to us that Donna's cancer treatment had taken its toll - - she could not run or jump like the other little girls. We were crushed. She wasn't. Donna simply danced, full of joy, not caring that she didn't look like the others. Her teacher, the beloved Miss Shawn, wrote to us about teaching Donna:
When I first met Donna she told me exactly what she liked and what she didn't . . . she liked tap dancing but didn't like "the train" because she felt pushed. She had no trouble trying to jump and gallop and hop and skip, just as long as she could do it at her own pace. So beautiful. So strong. So articulate. And so fun!
I was thrilled to have her in the class. And so deeply honored that her lovely parents trusted her to my care for 45 minutes every week. When I realized the role I was playing as teacher and mentor, I couldn't help but say to myself every week, "Do them right, Miss Shawn, do it right."
At first there were looks from other 3-year-olds who couldn't understand why one of them couldn't get off the floor when she did her sautes and jetes across the floor. Soon enough I could see them all comprehending that we all struggle and triumph in different ways. As the year progressed, Donna became just another wonderful student. Independent. Curious. Excited. Nervous. Ready for any challenge or fun surprise. Proud. Anxious. Thrilled. Learning to wait their turn. Learning to make choices with what is given. Learning to dance. And teaching me everything. Donna is the perfect student. She dances with concentration, commitment, and is motivated by her own internal sense of wonder and joy. Sassy and sweet. Proud and precious.
Now when I look at my students, I look deeper. I have been teaching dance for over twenty years, but Donna taught me that it's not about how many classes/performances you've had, it's about what you do with the experiences you have. Take no class for granted. Now that Donna and I have become friends, I believe more than ever that everyone should dance . . . every day. Every student in my classes from here on out will have been influenced by Donna. They will dance with joy because Donna taught me to teach with joy.
We believe any child who wants to dance should dance, and not be limited by economics. Six scholarships have been awarded since Donna died and we hope to see this number grow each year. Click here for the scholarship application. The mom of our first scholarship recipients sent along these kind words:
We want to thank you for what you've done for us. My girls both have a passion for dance and were very sad when I told them there wasn't any money for dance this year. Your family has made two little girls and their mom very happy and thankful because of your kind and gracious hearts., especially in your time of loss. Our hearts and prayers go out to your family.
We thank you from the bottom of our hearts.