Attendees step and swing in memory of Elaine Krawitz.
Photo by MacKenzie Reagan/The Connection
“Elaine loved to dance, and this is the best way to remember her.”
“[Elaine] was ill when I met her, but that didn’t stop her. She came every week.”
“We became friends with [the Krawitzes] three years ago through dances here. We’re thrilled by the response [of the sponsors and attendees helping to raise funds].”
“I want to make a difference. I’m here for everyone who’s helping or who has been hurt by dementia.”
Saturday, June 21, marked the summer solstice –– that is, the longest day of the year. The Alzheimer’s Association marked the occasion with its worldwide “The Longest Day” fundraising event, for which local teams all across the globe united to raise awareness of Alzheimer’s and to raise funds for the association.
In the historic Colvin Run Community Hall, local team Step and Swing for Elaine held a fundraiser in memory of Elaine Krawitz, who died last July of dementia.
But this was no ordinary fundraiser.
Elaine and her husband Gil, who organized the event, frequently attended dances at the hall.
“She danced up until the very end,” recalls friend Emmalyn Smith. When Smith and her husband Ron met the Krawitzes at a Colvin Run dance three years ago, Elaine had already been battling dementia for some time. While the Smiths never knew “well” Elaine, “We knew ‘brave’ Elaine,” says Emmalyn.
So Gil decided the best way to remember Elaine, and to raise awareness of the illness that claimed her, would be through a day-long dance, featuring lessons from local instructors interspersed with periods of free dance.
“We want the community to dance and to realize that one in three people will be diagnosed with dementia. We want to make a difference now so we can stay on the dance floor longer,” says event co-captain Ellen Green, who was a close friend of Elaine’s.
The event, which ran from 10 in the morning to 8 in evening, featured instruction from local dancers like Ed Cottrell, Gail Crum, Erica Smith and Don Herron. In addition to teaching Saturday’s crowd, many of the instructors auctioned off the chance for a private dance lesson, with the proceeds going towards the team’s fundraising efforts. Local businesses like The Old Brogue, Dante Ristorante and Matisse Salon and Spa pitched in as sponsors and donated prizes to be raffled off at the event.
While supporters came from all over, perhaps the attendee who understood the therapeutic and unifying power of dance the best was Kirk Tuey, who came all the way from Los Angeles to support the team’s cause. Tuey, who suffered a traumatic brain injury in a skiing incident eight years ago, credits dancing with his recovery. Initially in the area to visit family, Tuey spent Saturday at the event using his relearned dance skills to raise awareness and funds for the team.
Before the day even started, the team had raised nearly $14,000. In all, Step and Swing for Elaine raised over $20,000 – twice as much as their original goal of $10,000.
“One hundred percent of [the money raised] goes to the Alzheimer’s Association,” explains Gil.
“We’re thankful for all the efforts and support,” adds Gil’s son, Justin.