Saturday, November 22, 2014. This single day would become one of the greatest and most memorable days of my life. I stood on the platform looking at a crowd of just around one thousand. Dancing bodies, singing lips, and smiling faces filled the street. Happiness warmed my heart knowing that each and every individual there was there for me, for my Dad, and for a disease with a need for a cure, Parkinson’s.
6:00 am. I was woken up by the sound of my door opening and my parents frantically circling the hallway gathering last-minute items. It was just beginning to get light outside, and I could see the slight glare through the spaces in my blinds. I threw my covers to the ground and moved to my closet where I began putting on layers upon layers of clothing. I glanced at myself in my fleece leggings, fuzzy socks, heavy scarf, double sweatshirts, baby pink tutu, and my Team Fox t-shirt in the mirror and beamed with excitement.
By 8:30 the scene had been set – the stage, donation stands, hot drink stands, and best of all, Taylor Swift in cutout form! Volunteers were positioned all around. Close family friends were stationed at tables collecting donations while my peers from student government circled our zone with donation buckets. A large group of my fellow dancers joined me and put on their pink tutus as well, officially commencing the dancing and shaking.
Minute by minute new faces joined us on the street. The crowd had the widest variety of characteristics: young, old, male, female, humans, dogs, Ridgefield residents, and out-of-towners. Flash-forward sometime around twenty minutes and walking easily along the sidewalk became nearly impossible. Main Street was then declared officially shut down and people began to flood into the road.
I jumped up onto the stage, stunned at the sea of people I stood before. All this time leading up to this moment I had done nothing but promote these two hours of dancing, shaking, and donating, but never could I have imagined that it would result in something quite like this. I knew the sea had surpassed what was expected by far and as I sectioned off the dance groups into three and truly saw the extent of the people both in front of me and behind me as well, I looked back at my parents in utter shock. Mouthing back and forth we came to the conclusion at that moment that the number had most certainly reached the glorified and desired one thousand dancers! Surrounded by a community like this one truly created one of the most supportive networks of people I have ever encountered.
I turned around, now looking at the people before me, huddling together for warmth in the freezing temperature. After introducing myself and formally welcoming everyone, 98Q played the music. “Shake it Off” immediately projected from the speakers as the signature song of Dance Shake Donate. My dance teacher and I, along with the dance leaders moved every which way, dancing our hearts away as everyone else followed.
The energy was infectious. Smiles lined the faces of everyone I saw and laughter filled the air. Those who knew it sang the words at the top of their lungs!
Just as quickly as it had begun, all went quiet in the final few minutes. At 10:30 my two hours of pure joy had been completed and Ridgefield had returned to its usual state. I thought back on what had just taken place and the effect that it had on the Parkinson’s community. In the short amount of time, thousands of dollars were raised for the Michael J. Fox Foundation because of the extreme generosity and passion shown by those who attended. However, Main Street would never be the same for me. Each time I walk along the street my heart skips a beat and I grow overwhelmed with happiness. The memory of this day and the incredulous emotions I was able to have will forever live in my heart.