Ball gowns swirl. Arms embrace. Feet lift high off the floor. Audience members were entranced by the dancers’ graceful movements. On an idyllic Sunday afternoon, amateur, professional and youth ballroom dancers performed and competed to win scholarships, awards and cash prizes at the 2018 Florida Fun Mini Match. This informal amateur and Pro-Am ballroom dance competition benefits the Marion Therapeutic Riding Association, and over $7,500 was raised in just a few hours.
Florida Fun Mini Match is produced by Dance, Dance, Dance Studios of Wildwood, Florida, in partnership with its owner and presenting sponsor Mary K. Thomas, owner of equistaff.com, Fast Track Staffing, Inc. and MKT Talent. Ken Ward of USA Dance Chapter 6027 returned as master of ceremonies. DJ Josh Angel set the mood for entertainment.
Held at the Circle Square Cultural Center, the celebratory judges were dance partners Yulia Rudenco and Daniil Rostvinschii. Yulia is a five-time U.S. national champion along with many other honors. Daniil is from Moldova and enjoys partnering with Yulia. Their foxtrot, tango and Viennese waltz served as the grand finale at the end of the competition. The crowd was wowed by all the dancers doing the cha-cha, rumba, east coast swing, bolero and more.
As a highly successful business professional, Mary K. Thomas is deeply committed to giving back to the Ocala/Marion County community.
“The Marion Therapeutic Riding Association is special to me, as I personally experienced the benefits of the program,” she says. “My niece was a student at Hillcrest School, and her life improved as she encountered horses at the MTRA riding program. Several times a week she would leave the classroom for riding class. Tiffany was shy, preferred isolation and was very unstable when walking. She avoided physical activity whenever possible. However, contact with horses motivated her to get out to the barn and participate. The MTRA program increased her communication skills, coordination and balance as well as provided the opportunity to participate in group activities.”
MTRA Executive Director Leslie Gettys says, “MTRA is thrilled to be the beneficiary of the funds raised at the Florida Fun Mini Match. MTRA provides a special service for disabled youth and adults, veterans and at-risk youth in our community. While horseback riding, these individuals are able to do things that they never dreamed possible. Our programs help them to walk, have better balance, develop self-confidence, overcome feelings of anger and hopelessness and form bonds with the horses that they ride. We see miracles these horses bring to our riders, and it never gets old.”
Please take a minute and make a contribution to this worthy cause at mtraocala.org.