Special kids dance the night away at volunteer event

By on August 12, 2011

Photo: Joanna Duesler of Lily Lake is happy with the results after getting her hair curled before a dance for children with special needs at the Blackberry Township offices on Main Street Road Friday. Photo by Sandy Kaczmarski

by Sandy Kaczmarski
ELBURN—Several girls nervously waited for their turn to get their hair and nails done at a special dance for some very special youngsters.

For the second year, Chassidy Mangers of Elburn organized a dance for kids from the Fox Valley Special Education Center. Held at the Blackberry Township offices on Main Street, Mangers relies on word-of-mouth from the parents to publicize the dance.

She got the idea from a comparable event at Augustana College in Rock Island, Ill., where she is a junior majoring in speech and language pathology.

“I like working with children with disabilities,” she said. “I thought they deserved a special night for themselves and to have an event centered around them.”

The dance has grown to about 20 kids ranging in age from 8 to 18, with disabilities including Down Syndrome and autism. Mangers said she gets calls from parents who want their kids to attend, too.

The dance is completely run by volunteers, many from Kaneland High School (Mangers is a 2009 graduate) that include some of her friends, parents and Blackberry Township officials such as Township Supervisor Dave Richmond.

“One of the nice things about being in a small community is there’s always a lot of volunteers stepping up to the plate and doing good things,” Richmond said.

The girls attending arrive early and are treated to getting their hair and nails done before donning a corsage; there are boutonnieres for the boys. Formal pictures are taken for the dance by professional photographers from First Street Photo of Elburn. This year’s theme was a luau, complete with the limbo.

Animal Bingo is one of the favorite games played before dinner, which was provided by Elburn Subway, and then there’s dancing and doing the Chicken Dance.

Mangers said many parents drop their kids off, giving them some needed time for themselves.

Local sponsors included the Blackberry Township Youth Committee, First Street Photo of Elburn, Elburn Subway, Fred and Mary Dornback, and hairdresser Yvonne Bailey.