The Irish dance world is stepping up to help a four-year-old Irish girl with cerebral palsy get life-changing surgery in the US that will allow her to walk unaided.
With their own unique spin on the ice bucket challenge, which swept the internet as people recorded themselves pouring icy cold water over their heads and then nominated their friends, raising over $100 million for ALS research, the Irish dance community is embracing the Step Up for Sophie campaign.
Individual Irish dancers or dance groups have been filming themselves performing some of their best steps, posting the videos online and then nominating fellow dancers to “step up.”
Participants so far include dancers from all around the world, from students to world champions, famous choreographers, and stars from Riverdance, Lord of the Dance and Heartbeat of Home. Many of the videos have received thousands of views.
Sophie lives in Dublin with her parents, Ross and Catriona, and her baby brother. When she was almost two, doctors told her parents that she had cerebral palsy. As a result, the muscles in her legs are extremely tight and Sophie experiences painful cramps and spasms that leave her unable to walk and make it difficult for her to sleep at night.Murray Academy of Dance:
Tired of quick or temporary fixes, such as botox injections and leg splints, Sophie’s parents began researching alternatives. They discovered that Sophie is a prime candidate for Selective Dorsal Rizotomy, a surgery currently not available in Ireland. She has been accepted to receive SDR at St. Louis Children’s Hospital in St. Louis, MO. The surgery itself costs $75,000 (€60,000) and they have been advised by parents whose children have undergone SDR that the two years of physical therapy needed afterwards will cost $25,000 (€20,000). The Irish Health Service Executive (HSE) will not cover this, leaving the Nolans to raise the funds for Sophie independently.
They began the “Step up for Sophie” campaign earlier this year, with family and friends hosting an array of fundraising activities, including afternoon teas, golf classics, mini marathons, pub quizzes and cake sales.
Things took an unexpected twist, though, when the Irish dance community caught wind of the campaign and began to literally “step up” for Sophie, posting videos that introduce the campaign including a link for people to donate then continuing the cycle by nominating more people.
Chris Naish, Creative Director of Fusion Fighters and Sneaky Steppers (the groups behind some of the most awesome recent Irish dance flash mobs) told IrishCentral that Sophie’s mother Catriona has been completely overwhelmed by the outpouring of support from the Irish dance world. In October alone, Irish dancers raised $5,000 (€4,000) for Sophie’s campaign. This, combined with a recent anonymous donation of $9,400 (€7,500), puts them on track to reach their goal by June 2015.
Catriona has also commented on many of the videos that Sophie is trilled and hopes to take Irish dance classes once she is able to walk unaided.
“If ever there was a seriously productive reason to post up a new piece of choreography or show off some new moves it's now,” Naish said. He’s also hoping to spur interest in other dance circles, such as tap, percussive and flamenco.
Check out some more of the “step up” clips below:
Alan Kenefick, lead dancer and choreographer from Prodijig - the dance troupe who won Got To Dance in 2012.
David Geaney, World Champion and Irish Dancing Magazine’s Man of the Year 2014
Dancer Anya Marie and her younger sister
Dancer Owen Sherman