A Commack dancer is following her passion as she prepares to step into adulthood, hosting a dance-a-thon as she prepares for her bat mitvah.
Chelsea Strickland will be hosting "Be a Dance Angel" Dance-A-Thon on July 15 at Temple Beth El in Huntington to raise money for the Theresa Foundation. The young dancer is using her passion of dance to help support a cause that touches close to home.
Strickland, 13, has been dancing with Chorus Line Dance Studios in St. James for several years, taking an extensive set of classes including pop, tap, jazz and ballet. She said it was natural that she wanted to incorporate dance into her bat mitvah project.
"I've been doing dance since I was 2, and I'm not 13. It's my passion, I do it almost 24/7 and I wanted to link it to my bat mitvah," Strickland said.
She has grown up looking out for a younger brother who has an autism spectrum disorder. So when it was suggested she help the Long Beach-based Theresa Foundaiton for her bat mitvah project, she picked it up and ran. '
"I wanted to take my bat mitvah project to the next step. My bat mitvah is me turning into a woman and steps to that include taking on more responsibility, so I wanted to enforce that with my bat mitvah project," Strickland said.
The Theresa Foundation is a nonprofit organization that benefits children with special needs and fosters each child's unique ablity through direct support and programs focusing on the art, music and dance.
Leslie Strickland, Chelsea's mom, said a bat mitvah project typically consists of three different elements: community service, a monetary donation and a "mitvah" or good deed.
Chelsea volunteered with Theresa Foundation earlier this spring in order to to see and understand the scope of their mission. She helped at a Respit - a weekend program where families can drop off special needs childrens for structured activities with their peers. Chelsea volunteered to work with one boys.
After getting to know the children, Chelsea moved forward with putting togeth a Dance-A-Thon, where residents will be asked to get sponsors and donate towards attending a three-hour dance party.
Leslie Strickland said residents are asked to come out and dance July 15, from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., to show their support for the Theresa Foundation and children with special needs. There will a DJ pumping out tunes at Temple Beth El, 660 Park Ave., Huntington.
Registration is $10 to cover basic costs, but those participating are asked to solicit sponsors per dance or for the event. Children under age 12 must be accompanied by an adult. The first hundred to register will receive T-shirts to commemorate the events.
All money raised will be given directly to the Theresa Foundation, in hopes of encouraging more programs for special needs children, Chelsea said.
"We should have the worst problem be that we run out of 100 T-shirts," Leslie said.
Registrations will be accepted at the door starting at 12:30 p.m. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org to RSVP in advance.