TERRE HAUTE —
Dozens of local teens braved the spotlight’s glare Saturday night, hoping to help a little girl dance her way to Disney World.
The auditorium of Terre Haute South Vigo High School was full of clapping hands as Lauren Mnayarji, Miss Crossroads to America 2012, hosted a dance competition styled after the television show, “So You Think You Can Dance.”
The program served as a fundraiser for the Make-A-Wish Foundation and Mnayarji’s Adopt-A-Wish child, 4-year-old Faith Clarkson.
Faith was diagnosed with a tumor on her brain stem Sept. 30, 2011. Her first of four brain surgeries was initiated Oct. 1, said her mother, Natalie.
“She has JPA,” the mother of six from Spencer said, explaining the rare medical condition known as juvenile pilocytic astrocytoma. Faith is a patient at Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis.
Natalie said her sister completed an application for the Make-A-Wish Foundation and the contact with Mnayarji was quickly established, as both she and her daughter share the same passion.
“She loves to dance,” Natalie said Saturday evening inside the auditorium. Meanwhile, Faith sat in the lap of her father, Kevin, still excited from the performers’ routines. “They’re all wonderful. They really are. Faith really loved the little ones. She jumped out of her father’s arms.”
After her initial surgeries, Faith was partially paralyzed for a time, Natalie said. But since then she’s begun to recover and now dances around the house.
Mnayarji, a senior at Terre Haute South, is a four-year member of the Spirits Dance Team and two-year captain. She also performs with Wanda’s World of Dance and participated in four of the groups Saturday.
“I’ve been dancing for 14 years,” she said.
Twenty-one acts representing studios and teams throughout the area joined in the cause, the goal of which is to raise $6,000 to send Faith to Disney World in July.
The group will also sell stars and had concessions available Saturday night.
“Everybody is following through,” Mnayarji said. “I’m very impressed with everybody.”
As a contestant in Miss Crossroads to America, Mnayarji chose the Make-A-Wish Foundation as her platform after writing a research paper on the topic for school. Individuals wishing to contribute can contact her directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Fellow Brave and dancer Shannon McPike lent her feet to the cause in a jazz routine performed to “Jail House Rock.”
“I just think it’s great,” the Terre Haute South sophomore said, noting she too dances at Wanda’s World of Dance and participates on the school’s team. “It’s just a perfect opportunity to help others.”
Brian Boyce can be reached at 812-231-4253 or email@example.com.