Rosary Academy hosted its first-ever dance for people with special needs, ages 14 and older. “A Night to Shine” was held on Friday, April 26, from 6-8 pm in at the Karcher Center. The event was hosted in collaboration with Rising Against Disabilities (RAD) Camp and Down Syndrome Association of Orange County (DSAOC).
We are hoping this will be an annual event and the start of a larger partnership, since many of our current students and alumnae get involved with the organization outside of the prom,” said Kristie RueffO’Campo, Rosary’s director of advancement.
The Down Syndrome Association of Orange County is an organization based in Costa Mesa. It creates a place for families where they can find connection, information, hope, and empowerment. DSAOC believes in community collaboration as they seek to increase awareness surrounding Down syndrome, change perceptions, and ultimately change lives.
RAD Camp is a volunteer-run nonprofit organization for children and adults with developmental disabilities. Founded by Katie Webb Brundige, a Rosary Academy alumna, and Meghan Clem, a Santa Margarita Catholic High School alumna, RAD camp is now one of the largest overnight camps for individuals with disabilities in California.
Webb Brundige shared, “Rosary stepping up to put on a dance for our campers is so RAD, literally. Our campers love to dance and be with their friends, and Rosary giving them an opportunity to party with their peers, and their caregivers a ‘night off,’ is a blessing to these families. This dance will be a highlight of their year and something we are excited to implement into the RAD Camp family. We know the smiles on their faces are going to be huge walking into this night.”
RAD Camp volunteers focus on each person’s ability, not disability. Activities and programs encourage fun, independence, and growth from its participants.
“Meghan’s dedicated service to others through RAD Camp is a remarkable illustration of our charism of Caritas Christi – the love of Christ – in action. Her example as an alumna is a profound statement to our current students about how you can make a positive social impact in our local community while also being a successful businesswoman and a loving mother,” said Ian Rangel, director of alumni relations at Santa Margarita Catholic High School.
Pope Francis encouraged the faithful to foster a welcoming place for differently abled individuals. Greater awareness, he said, leads to “the espousal of courageous positions for the inclusion of those who live with various forms of handicap, so that no one should feel like a stranger.”