SAN DIEGO — The Wheelchair Dancers Organization teaches the art of dance to people of all ages and abilities.
The organization held its annual showcase and fundraiser on Sunday at Champion Ballroom Academy in Kearny Mesa.
Beverly Weurding started the inclusive group 15 years ago, looking to empower the body, mind and spirit through dance — something which stemmed from her own love of the art form cultivated since she was 4 years old.
“In high school, I continued to dance,” Weurding said. “It really laid the foundations for my joy and love of dancing going forward.”
But one day everything changed for her.
“I went to see the doctor, because I was tripping. I was doing things that I had not done in my life,” Weurding recalled. “The doctor said, ‘I have to tell you, you have muscular dystrophy. You’ll eventually use a wheelchair.’”
It was a difficult diagnosis, especially for a dancer. She remembered falling into depression so deep that she couldn’t see anybody for a year.
Ultimately though, her passion proved stronger than circumstances. In 2008, she set out to start the Wheelchair Dancers Organization, providing free classes to all ages and abilities.
On Sunday, the organization celebrated its 15th anniversary with a fundraiser and showcase.
“Dancing helped me out,” said Andres Garcia, who performed his first wheelchair dance during the performance.
Garcia said he also suffered from depression after an accident that left him paralyzed about three years ago. Dance, he says, helped him overcome it.
“I would just see limitations and say, ‘Oh I can’t do this because I’m in a wheelchair,’” Garcia said. “When I started doing this, it made to realize I could the things that used to do. It may take a little longer, but it’s possible.”
The organization offers a variety of dance classes from Hip Hop and Jazz to Ballroom. These classes have opened up new, life-changing possibilities for its participants, Weurding said.
“When they can dance and let their wheels become their feet,” she continued, “it’s beautiful.”