Friday, July 3, 2009

I Heart My Dance Parent Photo + Story Contest Winners!

The Girls @ IHTD are so happy to announce the results of our I Heart My Dance Parent Story and Photo Contest!

UNDER 17 WINNER: Kelly-Anne C.

No one other than me in my small family of three, my mom, my dad and I, dance, but everyone shares the spirit. Since the age of three, both of my parents have been very supportive of my Irish dancing. My mom got me started into it, and was the one that would bring me to competitions, class, and shows. Things were great.

When I was about ten years old, my mom went through a rough time medically. She had a less than perfect medical history to begin with, but at this time a doctor put her on a high does of medication, which gave her seizures. My mom lost her license, and her freedom. Simple things are now a chore, harder than ever. My mom lost one of her greatest joys, that was being able to attend every class, every competition, and every show. As hard as she tries to attend everything she can, it is very difficult for her. My dad pulled through amazingly well. He brings me to every competition he can possibly get to, to multiple classes a week. Both my parents were very supportive in my transferring of schools this past summer.

I find it amazing everything that they will do anything for my dancing, just because it is something that I love so much. Even through the recession: my dad losing his job, and our family finding it hard to pull things together, they found a way to still send me to dance. My dad has since gotten a job and my family is starting to recover. He is bringing me to more competitions, because he knows that that is something I enjoy.

I am a dancer in the Preliminary Championship level. I'm not used to placing, and when I started to place recently, my dad would be the first one up in the front – taking pictures of me, trying as hard as he can to catch my smiling face. A part of me knows that I owe my improvement in dancing to him. He helps me in more ways than he knows, driving me to practice, or lending me the car to go; paying for whatever I need for dancing; putting up with the repetitive accordion music he listens to day in and day out; building me a practice stage, taking me for runs to build up my stamina... there is so much more, but I can barely name everything that he does for me and my dancing. Without my parents, I wouldn't be where I am now in my dancing career, and I hope they are with me in this right until the end.


My mom is the reason I make it through any competition alive. She sees to it that my bun is in place, my outfit is neat, and every inch of visible skin is slathered with sunscreen. She helps me focus, talking to me when I need to talk and warding other people off when I need to be quiet. She is always proud and supportive, whether I win it all or don’t even place.

But these aren’t the best things my mom does for me. She supports me even more when it’s not competition time. She drives me four hours away once a month for dance classes, and in between she pushes me to do my best. She never lets me get away with “that’ll do,” but always makes sure I work as hard as I possibly can. She manages to balance challenging and supporting, pushing and loving. I don’t know how she does it.

All of these are wonderful, and they are all reasons why I “heart” my dance mom. But they aren’t the biggest reason. The biggest reason is abstract, intangible: it’s the life lessons she never fails to impart. “It’s your attitude – not your prizes – that matters most.” “Do your best, and I’ll be proud of you.” And most of all, “If the journey isn’t fun, it’s not worth it.”

This is what will still be with me years from now, when my turnout is gone, my elevation has faded, and my point has vanished. And that’s why I love my dance mom.

WINNER OVER 18: Hannah J.

I would like to nominate my Mom, Heather, for the I Heart My Dance Parent contest. My Dad passed away almost three years ago, and my Mom has done everything she can to keep me in the Irish dance scene. Although she hasn't come to a feis with me in many years, she stays by the phone to hear how I've done at each competition. She attends all of my dance dramas each year, and often helps fund part of my competitions since I have to travel to attend feisanna.

With my Dad's death, my Mom has had to take on many extra responsibilities, but she never ceases to remember how much Irish dance means to me. Her support has been invaluable! I come home from class each night to her waiting to hear how I did, and any stories I have to tell. She is truly an inspiration, and this summer she is hoping to make a vacation of my next feis; this is very exciting, and I know it would mean even more if she won this contest and could see just how much I appreciate all she does for our family. I love you, Mom; you rock my poodle socks!

Congratulations to our winners, and a BIG thank-you to all who entered -- as usual you made our choice very very difficult!

Stay tuned to the blog for your next contest and chance to win some great merchandise from I Heart That! Dance -- or sign up for the newsletter and get advance notice delivered right to your inbox (sign-up is in the green box right here on the blog in the right hand column).