“We are a family.”
I hear this declaration often at Moving in the Spirit. It’s expressed by students when their peers give them encouragement during a particularly hard time. It’s voiced by parents when they form unexpected friendships while waiting for their children to finish class. It’s revealed by alumni who have forged lifelong bonds and now watch their own children dance together.
Our donors are our family as well.
Ralph Edwards, an entrepreneur and community leader, was introduced to us ten years ago. He is a Principal of EBS Property Investments, a commercial real estate company he built from the ground up. Having had strong mentors throughout his career, Ralph knows firsthand the importance of giving back. Over the years he has harnessed his connections to open many doors for Moving in the Spirit. His Founding Fathers giving circle has raised over $100,000 for our Men in Motion program.
And it doesn’t end there. Philanthropy is an Edwards family value. Ralph’s eldest daughter Colie, a dancer, began volunteering as a teacher in 2005. It wasn’t long before she was asked to join our Board of Directors and chair our much-loved Holiday Store, where students use “points” they earn in class to “buy” gifts for their loved ones. Colie engaged her sister, Tyler Gardner, to help co-chair the event. Over the past nine years, the sisters have generated $163,000 in donations for the Holiday Store and impacted over 1,800 children.
The donors cultivated, the events hosted and the funds awarded from the Edwards Family Fund have added over $1 million to our bottom line. Yet, what touches me most is the way the Edwards family personally connects with our young people.
I remember several years ago when Colie choreographed a work for our teen company. Autumn, a first-year member, was cast in the most demanding role and felt insecure and anxious about her ability to perform. Colie encouraged her and took time to give her extra practice, all the while saying, “You got this. You can do this.” She never gave up on Autumn, and when the show finally arrived, Autumn performed flawlessly.
With our new year underway, our classes are full and we are embarking on the next phase of our strategic plan, which focuses on accommodating our growing family and preparing for a strong future.
All of our success we owe to you, our donors. Our work together has impacted thousands of lives, and we now have the opportunity to impact thousands more. The journey ahead will be full of excitement and challenges, and I know in my heart we will be successful.
After all we are a family, and we can do this.
Dana Marie Lupton
Executive & Artistic Director