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Richard Family Irish Dance Fundraiser
The Irish dance community is supporting one of their own. Sevenyearold Jane Richard, a dancer with Clifden Academy of Irish Dance in Milton, Massachusetts, was one of the victims of the Boston Marathon bomb attacks. Jane lost her leg and remains hospitalized. Her brother, 8yearold Martin, was killed; her mother, Denise, remains hospitalized after brain surgery. The family was waiting for her dad to cross the finish line.
She is just a beautiful little girl. We taught her since she was a baby, pointing her little toe, Eileen Dillon Dinn, owner of the Clifton Academy, told the Irish Voice. We are just in a state of shock and disbelief. The Richard family is lovely. They went to the marathon as a happy family, and then this happened. With so Midwest many dancers having toured and performed in Boston recently, the tragedy hit even closer to home. Once the word spread about Jane being an Irish dancer, calls for fundraising and support for the Richard family dominated Irish dance message boards and Facebook accounts.
We were sitting watching an interview on TV when they said that little Jane was an Irish dancer, said Trish Johnson of Wisconsin, with daughter Breeane GlavanJohnson, a former Irish dancer and current teacher with Glencastle Irish Dancers in Wisconsin. We looked at each other and started bawling. The Johnsons were moved to action and Wrapping Jane in Our Love was born. The goal: to collect a tshirt from Irish dance schools all over the world and make them into a quilt for Jane.
The Johnsons were hoping for 20 to 30 tshirts. To date, nearly 500 schools have mailed tshirts. Between wordofmouth and social media, Wrapping Jane in Our Love took off among the Irish dance community.
Ive been reduced to tears by the response, said Trish. It literally leaves me speechless.
Parcels continue to arrive at the Johnsons front door. Michael Flatley contacted their website and is sending shirts from Lord of the Dance. Several Midwest World Champions have donated World medals or sashes. The Johnsons plan to fly to Boston at the end of May and, with the help of family friend Kathy Hatfield and team of volunteers, sew and deliver the quilt to the Richard family.
Were the most competitive people you have ever met, but when one of our own has been hurt, we will rise above everything, said Trish. This is opening peoples eyes to the Irish dance community in general. Because they think of crazy people who buy these outrageous costumes and wigs and spray tan, but when it comes down to it, there is not a better bunch of people who Id want to have my back.
Local feiseanna continue to raise money, and dance outs are in the works across several cities in the Midwest. More than $250,000 has been raised for the Richard Family Fund to date.