Kainos Home & Training Center
Eric Tomita and Elyssa Cumming practice their choreography for the Special Olympics coming up in March.
A Redwood City dance team poised to add dance as a sport in the Special Olympics has the opportunity of a lifetime ahead: to perform in exhibitions at the Special Olympics in March.
But there’s a catch. The team, comprised of six dancers from the Redwood City Kainos Home and Training Center and five community members, has raised one quarter of the $24,000 they need to make the trip to Graz, Austria, where the 2017 games will be held.
Andy Frisch is the executive director of the Kainos Home and Training Center, which provides vocational and residential services for more than 130 adults with developmental disabilities. Frisch received the invitation from Louis van Amstel, a star dancer from the television show Dancing with the Stars, to send members of the Kainos community to perform at the Special Olympics last year. He immediately knew it was an offer they couldn’t pass.
“It’s one of those serendipitous opportunities,” he said. “It’s one of those opportunities that comes once in a lifetime.”
When Beth Mostovoy, a Redwood City photographer, heard the team was in need of additional funds to make the trip, her ears perked. Mostovoy was in the midst of planning Redwood City’s Art in the Square events for 2017, and wondered if the community of artists and community members gathering for these events might be tapped to help a good cause. After meeting with Frisch, Mostovoy and a team of other community members set their eyes on a February fundraiser and exhibition featuring local artists called H’art Squared 2017.
“To us, our mission is to bring arts to people and people to art,” she said. “This was really a cool way to reach out to the community in a slightly different way other than just exposing people to our artists.”
Some 20 artists will showcase their work Saturday, Feb. 4, to offer residents an opportunity to shop for Valentine’s Day gifts and support the dance team, slated to perform at the event. The booth fees, a raffle and sponsorships from members of the surrounding community collected at the event will go toward the team’s historical trip.
For the team of 11, the chance to change history is theirs. They are joining van Amstel in voicing support for adding dance to the list of competitive sports in the Special Olympics and are slated to perform in exhibition shows and at the closing ceremony March 24 to prove why it belongs. Though Frisch said some of the team members have taken international trips with their family members, this trip will be like no other.
“No one has gone on a trip like this, where they are competing and participating in a worldwide movement,” said Frisch.
While the team members are undoubtedly excited to step on the world stage, Frisch said they are especially excited to work closely with van Amstel, who has been involved with Kainos since he attended one of the organization’s fundraising events six years ago.
“They are thrilled to be associated with Louis because they are big fans of Dancing with the Stars,” he said.
Van Amstel choreographed the dance they will perform in March and is spending time with the team at practices leading up to the trip.
Following a week performing at the Special Olympics, the group plans to tour Vienna for three days before returning home. Despite the team’s excitement to represent the United States on the international stage, Frisch doesn’t see the group stopping here.
“They plan on performing again and continuing with the performance that they’ve developed,” he said. “They’re loving the process of learning a dance together.”
H’art Squared 2017 will take place 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 4, at the Veterans Memorial Senior Center at 1455 Madison Ave. in Redwood City.
(650) 344-5200 ext. 102