Dancing Wheels Brings Reverse * Reboot * Reveal to Cleveland

Disclosure: I was contacted by Dancing Wheels to help promote their upcoming Reverse * Reboot * Reveal! show. I was compensated and provided tickets to their June 14 event, which I had to decline due to pre-existing commitments. As always, all views are my own. Go see the show!

When Mary Verdi-Fletcher talks about dancing, you can hear the excitement and passion in her voice. Born into a musical family (her father was a musician and her mother was a Vaudeville dancer), she always saw herself as growing up to be a dancer.

Mary, however, was born with spina bifida and grew up in a wheelchair. Yet today, Mary is more than a dancer. This inspiring Emmy-award winning woman is the president and founding artistic director of Dancing Wheels Company and School. Dancing Wheels is a professional, physically integrated dance company uniting the talents of dancers both with and without disabilities. The company’s mission is to educate, advocate and entertain through compelling, innovative dance.

Being in Cleveland, we are fortunate enough to be not only the home of Dancing Wheels, but also their world premiere performance and 38th Annual Gala, Reverse * Reboot * Reveal! This June 14 event will feature the works of three internationally-recognized disabled choreographers.

An Interview With Mary Verdi-Fletcher

I was  able to talk one-one-one with Mary and got to hear more about her experience and Reverse * Reboot * Reveal. Here is a peek at our conversation:

How would you describe Dancing Wheels?

Dancing Wheels is a physically integrated dance company, which means it’s comprised of dancers with and without disabilities. Today we are also integrated in that the company has dancers that make up different ages, ethnicities, genders, and abilities.  

How did Dancing Wheels get started?

As the daughter of a dancer and a musician, I’ve always wanted to be a dancer. It didn’t matter to me that I was in a wheelchair – my parents never told me it was something I couldn’t do, so I always believed I could.

As a girl, a non-disabled friend and I partnered together and started experimenting to see what types of dancing we could do with one another. We ended up entering a nationally televised dance competition that was happening – Dance Fever – and when we got out on the stage, I remember the silence when the 2,000 shocked people in the audience saw me in my wheelchair. But when our song – It’s Raining Men – came on and we busted into our performance, the crowd went crazy. We even got a standing ovation! The rest is history – our story spread, and I eventually founded Dancing Wheels in 1980.

What can someone expect to see at a Dancing Wheels performance?

Dancing Wheels is a dance like you’ve never seen before. We work with a wide variety of choreographers who develop a performance with lots of speed, energy, movement and grace.  People are often surprised at how well our dancers move in the chair. They often forget the effort it takes to propel the chair; our dancers truly make the gliding seem effortless.  

What can people look forward to at the 38th Annual Gala, Reverse * Reboot *Reveal?

The world premiere performance and 38th Annual Gala called Reverse * Reboot * Reveal! is taking place June 14 at the Allen Theatre in Playhouse Square and will feature the works of three internationally-recognized disabled choreographers.

Reverse*Reboot*Reveal! will be wrapped before and after with a benefit gala. Over 200 VIP guests and supporters will enjoy pre-performance hors d’oeuvres and cocktails. After the performance, all attendees will be invited to meet the dancers and choreographers for a dessert and champagne celebration.

The event will include special guests, including Ben Vereen, the Tony, Golden Globe and Emmy award-winning entertainer.

Inspired Yet?

Want to see something like you’ve never seen before? Tickets can be purchased for Reverse * Reboot * Reveal here: https://dancingwheels.org/reverserebootreveal/. And learn more about Dancing Wheels, including Mary’s amazing story (did you know she has an Emmy?!), here: https://dancingwheels.org/.

Some questions for you:

  • Have you ever seen a Dancing Wheels or similar performance?
  • Are you musical? What musical talents do you have?

 

Processing the Cleveland Marathon

I have had a hard time processing all the events from last week’s Cleveland Marathon. More than a week has gone by, and I’m still trying to put to words how I’m feeling.

The highs – the Ambassador race VIP dinner, working the Expo with fellow Ambassadors, and of course finishing the races under less-than-ideal conditions.

But the low – the passing of Taylor Ceepo – has been running through my mind all week.

I’ll start by saying I did not know Taylor. I had never met her. I do not know her family and cannot fathom what they are feeling. Unfortunately the only connection I have to her is running the same race – the Cleveland half marathon – and running by her after she collapsed.

So why do I feel so connected to her? Why on after the race did I have a hard time going to sleep, reliving the moment that I ran by her on the ground, her mom and boyfriend standing over her, each time I closed my eyes? Why did I find myself choked up on my first #RunForTaylor on Wednesday? Why did I find myself hugging my own daughter a little tighter as I thought about what Taylor’s mother must be feeling?

I can’t help but feeling like I don’t have a right to feel this way. I don’t have a right to write a post like this. Who am I to be talking about this at all? But after reading some thoughts from other local runners, I realize I am not alone. We are all grieving for this woman. Because we are all part of a community. One of my running friends and a fellow ambassador Andrew explained it this way:

We [runners] all have different routines, different speeds, and different backgrounds. But we all have two things in common; a goal to finish and a love for running. This is what brings us together.

We lost one of our own this day. And our hearts are broken. Our hearts are broken for the spectators who witnessed [it], the race staff, the runners who shared the course, the first-responders who were unable to revive her. Most importantly, our hearts are broken for the family and friends of this young woman.

So thank you, Taylor, for reminding us of the community that we are part of. For reminding us of how lucky we all are. I will keep on running for you and your family in the weeks ahead. #runfortaylor

LM Turns One

This weekend is brought to you by the letter F. F is for First birthday, Friends, Family and Food — all wonderful things and well, I’m still smiling over what an amazingly wonderful weekend it was.

Friday was LM’s first birthday. That’s right, LM turned one over the weekend and I can’t believe it! While I’m still emotionally recovering, we had a blast celebrating. Friday celebrations started off early – I took the afternoon off and we were able to get the kids early from daycare to spend some time at the playground. Both LM and FW loved the swings.

And then we took LM to get her first ice cream. No photos of her, but FW loved his 🙂

Friday night, B and I actually got in a date night. My parents came into town, so B and I snuck out to grab drinks.

And then we had tickets to see the Indians – they won!

We even made it out for an after dinner drink on East 4th.

Saturday came early (especially after staying out late Friday), but was filled with celebrations — it was LM’s party! She enjoyed her first cake.

B’s mom made the cake and cupcakes – isn’t she amazing?!

LM thought so. She got frosting in her nose 🙂

The weather was PERFECT and FW enjoyed playing with his friends, cousins and of course, me.

After Saturday’s perfect weather, Sunday turned out stormy. We managed to catch a break in the rain and made it to the Zoo with my parents.

LM is still a little too young to enjoy it, but FW had such a blast. His favorite animals are the giraffes and elephants, and he got in some quality time with both.

Monday morning my parents left, and we hit up the local Memorial Day parade. It starts about 2 miles from our house, so B rode with the kids on the bike and I ran over.

Post-parade included some hot dogs at Grandma and Grandpa’s house, followed by a run home.

Aftet naptime, it was time for bbq #2, this time at B’s uncle’s house.

FW had some more fun and food with his cousins and LM did some assisted walking.

And that was the end of our perfect three-day weekend. Cheers to the unofficial start of summer!

Some questions for you:

  • Did you watch a Memorial Day parade?
  • Did you get outside this weekend?

Cleveland Half Marathon Week – Post-Race Day Workouts

It’s been one week since I ran the Cleveland Half Marathon Challenge Series. Last Saturday, I ran the 8k and Sunday I ran the half marathon, and this week has been all about getting back into the swing of running, recovering, and also tending to my bruises (I rolled my ankle and scraped my knees during a fall at mile 2 of the half marathon … whoops!).

Here was a look at this week’s workouts:

And some highlights from the week:

Sunday’s race (full recap here) was a tough one. It was in the 80s and I was not used to running in the heat. But I kept it fun and finished strong, even if it was slower than I would’ve liked.

After taking Monday and Tuesday off, I decided to #RunForTaylor Wednesday through Friday. My runs were slower than they usually are, but warm weather and a recovering body make it understandable. I’m glad that I’ve felt good enough to get in as many runs as I did this week.

Some questions for you:

  • How many days do you take off after a race? A half marathon?
  • Do you prefer cool or hot weather running?

I’m linking up with Deborah and Kim for the Weekly Run Down.

Cleveland Half Marathon Training: One Week To Go

It’s TAPER time! That’s right, race day is NEXT weekend and it’s time to taper.

What does that mean for me for a half marathon? Well, I decided not to do a long run this past weekend (mostly because I was tired … and busy). And this week I’m keeping my runs to 3-4 miles at most. And then I’ll take Thurs/Fri off before getting to run the Cleveland Half Marathon Challenge Series 8k/half on Saturday and Sunday!

Last week’s training was okay. I did just under 30 miles total, and my “long” run was 6ish miles. I did two six-milers and it was amazing how different each felt. Thursdays was done on less 5 hours of sleep and I could not MOVE my body at all. Saturdays was done on a little more sleep and felt so much better!

Here’s a look at my 10x400m. I tried to keep my 400 meters under 8 min/mile paces, but not all worked out.

And take a look at the difference in Thursday and Saturday’s runs. Thursday was done at a slower pace, too – but check out the difference in heartrate!

Saturday:

Thursday:

What’s race day forecast looking like?

Well, it’s not my ideal racing weather (48-52 degrees and party cloudy), but it could be worse, right? Let’s just hope it doesn’t get much warmer and stays in the 50s during the actual race time. What are the chances of that?

Some questions for you:

  • What’s your ideal race weather?
  • Do you take a day or two off of running before a race?

I’m linking up with Deborah and Kim for the Weekly Run Down.

Weekends with Family

I love weekends with family! And this weekend was one of those weekends, as my parents were able to come into town to visit. The last time they were in Cleveland was October, so it had been some time!Friday afternoon coincidentally was a grandparents’ event at FW’s school, so they got to see him in his element as he performed a song and then they watched a puppet show.And then Friday night included pizza from our favorite local place – Marottas! They had been closed for renovations, but they reopened about a week ago. So yes, this was our second week of pizza pickup from them. I love roasted garlic on the pizza!Saturday morning, the whole family walk to breakfast at Luna. Their almons croissants are amazing.Followed by a little time on the playground. The weather was perfect!In the afternoon, we celebrated our friend June’s first birthday. She had a kindermusik class, and both LM and FW had a blast!

Sunday morning came too quickly. After some bagels, my parents were on the road again and it was time to say goodbye.

As they drove back, we had a relatively low key day. We did not get in any of our usual weekend chores – no grocery shopping, meal planning, cleaning, etc. Instead, I caught up on work and then got outside for a run.

That night, we celebrated B’s sister Mary’s birthday. That ends what seems like a month of birthday celebrations for B’s family! FW will be disappointed not to sing Happy Birthday at next week’s dinner.

Questions for you:

  • How do you handle grocery shopping? Do you go once a week or when you need to something?
  • What’s your go-to bagel?

Cleveland Half Marathon Training: Week 7

This week was another great week in terms of weather for running – every single one of my runs, including my speed training (8×400 m) was done outside.

Here’s a look at week 7 of my Cleveland half marathon training:

Overall, here is how the week looked:

weekly cleveland marathon training mileage

Some highlights/lowlights:

This week was the first time that I used my Garmin Fenix to help with interval training. I typically do speed work inside on a treadmill, but I opted to try it outside, since it was 50s in the morning. It was actually kind of fun to do my intervals outside – my only issue was that some of the runs were uphill and some were downhill. But I guess that is good for training in real world conditions?

Here were some of my splits:

I didn’t get in a really long run this weekend. I had a 10k race on the schedule, but since my parents were in town, I decided to take the weekend off from running. Instead, on the two days I was scheduled to not run, I did a 7 and 5 miler.

Next week is another 9 miler and then the following week I signed up for the Cleveland 10 miler! It will be my longest race since 2017!

Some questions for you:

  • Do you like 10 mile races?
  • Do you do speed training outside?

Note: I am a Cleveland marathon ambassador! That means I get free race entry for me, and a free race entry to giveaway. Wanna run CLE with me? Don’t forget, I have a 10% discount for you!

clé marathon discount

Today, I’m linking up with Deborah and Kim for the Weekly Run Down.

March Comes Out Like a Snowy, Fluffy Lamb

HAPPY APRIL! Though looking at the weather we had this weekend, you wouldn’t know it was April. That’s because we got SNOW (a few inches!) on Saturday night into Sunday. It may have looked pretty, but I’m ready for spring already!

Anyway, I’m getting ahead of myself. Here’s a little bit about the whole weekend.

Friday started off with my long run. I typically do long runs on Saturdays, but opted instead to wake up at the crack of dawn Friday and run in the rain before anyone was up. No idea why, but it felt good to have my 8 miles done with before my day started!

Friday evening included a haircut … finally! I was planning on donating my hair and had to chop it all off to do so.

During the process I snapped a pic

And here’s the after shot! And I’m holding my hair … wow!

We spent some time indoors this weekend because it was rainy on Saturday. That meant lots of book reading!

And then it stopped raining, so I was able to get out for a stroller run with FW. I had done my long run early Friday, so only had to do 3 miles. It had been so long since we had gone out with the stroller, and it wasn’t easy!

And we ended the day with some pasta making!

The finished product. Chicken scallopini!

Sunday we woke up to snow! The 50 degrees from Saturday was gone. We were back to sweater weather.

The rest of the day included some bagels (unpictured) with B’s sister  and brother-in-law, naps, more indoor play and dinner with B’s family. All unpictured. I was a bad blogger at the end of the weekend and captured NOTHING on camera. Whoops!

Thank goodness the weather is looking up for this week – as pretty as it is, I’m done with this snow.

Some questions for you:

  • Did it snow near you this weekend?
  • Have you ever donated your hair?

 

Pancakes, Pizza and Running

Some weekends are busy. Jam packed, with tons of fun activities, but barely any time to sit back and relax.

Other weekends are uneventful – not much planned, but plenty of time to hang out with family, friends, and get stuff done.

Last weekend was the former – but this weekend? This weekend was the latter. Not too much planned, so we filled it with good fun, running and some fun activities.

The good food started Friday night. We go meatless on Fridays during Lent, and this Friday B made jackfruit tacos al pastor. They were SO good and definitely brought me back to our days in Mexico City!

Saturday morning, after breakfast, I got in my long run for the week. I’m training for the Cleveland half marathon and had 7 miles on the schedule.

Afterwards, FW and I baked some muffins.

And we did our grocery shopping for the week:)

We continued the good food theme with homemade pizza for dinner.

And at night, B and I watched “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?”

Sunday morning started with a new tradition we started last year- visiting the Burton, Ohio fire department for an all-you-can-eat pancake breakfast with local maple syrup.

This year was fun, as both kids got to enjoy pancakes.

We finished the weekend at B’s parents’ house for dinner. LM started feeling unwell, so hopefully she is better again soon. She has been sick on and off since January, and I don’t know how much more I can take! Can we just build a bubble to keep our kids safe and healthy?

Questions for you

  • Have you been sick lately?
  • What kind of pancakes do you like?

Cleveland Half Marathon Training: Week Two

And now, week two of Cleveland half marathon training is done.

This week, I was only sick a few days, which helped a TON. My eye infection healed, but then LM came down with a fever and likely HFM (along with teething), which is making sleep fun. I also was away for the weekend, which made the schedule change a bit – I did my long run on Friday and then got in an impromptu run on Saturday.

Saturday’s run included some great views – look at the frozen lake! It was also the first run I’ve had outside in forever so any views would’ve been great.

This week’s Tuesday Topic is are you a morning runner or an evening runner?

I’m DEFINITELY a morning runner. I can’t imagine running at night – running is how I start my day nearly every day of the week. It’s the only way I function some days! Plus, my days/nights are pretty crazy that if I ran at night, it would have to be after the kids are in bed and wouldn’t be until after 9 p.m. some nights (which would be too late for me). Here is how I make it happen:

  • I sleep in my running clothes when I can. Maybe it’s gross, but it makes it so much easier to get out and run! And when I don’t, I make sure my clothes are set out and ready to go.
  • I figure out my running route and plan before I go to bed. I don’t want to have to think in the morning.
  • I set multiple alarms. I don’t always wake up with one alarm.

Some questions for you:

  • Are you a morning or evening runner?
  • Do you run on vacation?

Note: I am a Cleveland marathon ambassador! That means I get free race entry for me, and a free race entry to giveaway. 

Wanna run CLE with me? Don’t forget, I have a 10% discount for you!

clé marathon discount

Linking up with Tuesday Topics!