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Community News: Sweethearts showcase their ability to groove

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Veronica Sepulveda
Metro Editor

Neither rain nor disability could ruin the excitement of the participants as they prepared to attend a night of dancing at the Annual Sweetheart Dance.

The dance was held for the developmentally disabled Feb. 8 at the La Verne Community Center.

“They are so excited,” said Frances Divine, a volunteer.

“They dance from the time they get here until the time they go home, and the louder the better.”

There were approximately 125 people in attendance.

The center was filled with high energy from participants as they made their way to the main hall to meet up with their friends and dance.

The hall, decorated by volunteers, was filled with valentine banners with hearts along the walls and teddy bears with balloons as centerpieces on the tables.

A live DJ started the night with playing hits from today’s popular music.

A free photo booth run by student volunteers from Bonita High School was set up outside the hall where participants could take a photo and receive them right away.

Snacks such as cookies, pretzels and punch, provided by The International Order of Alhambra, were served.

The International Order of Alhambra is a Catholic organization with 2,700 members that focus on providing assistance, education and residences for persons with developmental disabilities.

The Order has regional locations called caravans throughout the United States and Canada.

The caravan sponsoring this event is based in Monrovia.

They have been sponsoring all four of the La Verne community dances for more than a decade.

“It is a great opportunity,” Vince Braun, vice-supreme commander of the Order, said.

“We look forward to assisting in these events every year.”

Not only does the Order sponsor the event, but they also help pass out the snacks and punch.

Members stated they like to participate in these events to be able to interact and see how these participants are benefiting from it.

“I appreciate all that the Order of Alhambra has done to help them connect with their friends,” Maria Robles, mother of a participant, said.

Many of these participants live in group homes or at home, and this event is a great opportunity for them to come out and reconnect with friends they do not get to see anymore.

Participants come from different cities within the San Gabriel Valley and many do not get to see each other outside of these dances.

“We enjoy doing this and watching them have fun,” Marge Ratchford, wife of an Order of Alhambra member said.

“Kids love music and they can be in an environment where they can have fun.”

It was a great site to see as songs like “Thriller,” “Soulja Boy” and “Gangnam Style” came on and many participants ran to the dance floor to line up and do the moves to each song.

The dance floor was full the entire time of the event, some participants continued to dance the whole night without sitting down.

Participants in wheelchairs were moving along to the beats.

“La Verne is doing a good service for the developmentally disabled,” Miguela Perez, mother of a participant said.

“I appreciate that they continue to provide this entertainment for our kids.”

According to Steven Meza, a participant, the success of this event can be summed up with a thumbs up.

The city of La Verne holds these dances four times a year.

The next event will be the Spring Fling, a prom and graduation celebration on June 14.

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Veronica Sepulveda can be reached at

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