Dancing in a Garden of Dreams

Blog: Dancing in a Garden of Dreams

Avery Roberts, 15, has been dancing since she was 4. Her talent has led to performances with renowned dance troupes such as Alvin Ailey and at iconic venues like New York City Center and the Ziegfield Ballroom. She was even part of the ensemble for NBC-TV’s “Annie Live.”

On April 19, Avery, a resident of Rockland County, New York, who lives with congenital muscular dystrophy and uses a wheelchair, faces her greatest challenge yet. She will perform at Radio City Music Hall in New York City.

Avery told writer Nancy Cutler of Lohud that many people underestimate the potential of people with disabilities. “There’s so many misconceptions about disabled people,” she said. “Disability doesn’t take away any talent … just give us a chance and let us show what we’ve got.”

The teen is one of 150 youngsters selected to participate in New York tri-state area nonprofit Garden of Dreams’ annual talent show. This year’s program is titled, “Dreams Take Flight: Watch Us Soar!”

Founded in 2006, Garden of Dreams “is committed to creating meaningful, unforgettable programs for children affiliated with our 30 local partner organizations,” including Children’s Aid, Children’s Village, Covenant House, Hospital for Special Surgery, Make a Wish, and Madison Square Garden Entertainment.

Young people chosen to participate in Garden of Dreams programs live with disabilities, chronic or critical illnesses, face financial hardship, sex trafficking or homelessness, or have experienced the loss or injury of a parent during military service.

Garden of Dreams has many well-known board members. According to Lohud, “the talent show’s creative director is Darryl “DMC” McDaniels of Run-DMC. Comedian Tracy Morgan, who was honored last year with the Foundation’s Hero Award, is also on the board.”

Morgan became involved with the organization after he sustained life-altering injuries from a bus crash in 2014. He and other board members as well as Rockettes, actors and other talented individuals, helped talent show participants prepare for their performances.

Avery was full of compliments and appreciation for the celebrities who helped her. “They are such nice people,” she told Lohud.

In her Lohud interview, Avery reiterated Morgan’s message to her just before her performance during a rehearsal: “We hear you; we see you, and we’re right there with you,” he told her.

Despite her love of dance, Avery isn’t certain whether she will make a career of it. Instead, she may pursue a career in public policy advocacy. In particular, Avery wants to see more research and better healthcare for individuals with rare diseases.

Photo credit: Mark Vergari for The Journal News