Service members' kids benefit from dance performance

DeKALB – When Jodi Riley’s husband was deployed to Afghanistan, her children were able to enroll in sports programs because of scholarships they received through Our Military Kids.

Riley, the artistic director of the Performing Arts Academy, never forgot the kindness. On April 16, the academy will perform its third benefit dance performance for Our Military Kids. This year, Northern Illinois University’s Military Student Services will assist with putting on the event.

“We feel that any opportunity to extend support to our military members’ spouses and children is intrinsically connected to the service member’s support and well-being,” said Jarvis Purnell, Military Student Services director. “The work that Performing Arts Academy is doing with this initiative is important because it allows children to nurture their unique talents and abilities through Our Military Kids grants. We hope to see our ‘communiversity’ support this event.”

Our Military Kids is a nonprofit organization that provides grants to help the children of deployed National Guard and Reserve service members, from age 5 through the 12th grade, participate in extracurricular activities of their choice to provide a positive distraction that builds self-esteem and relieves the stress of being separated from their parent.

Riley, an NIU alumnus, said she hopes the collaboration with NIU boosts the amount of donations the academy can raise for the organization.

Christa McGrath, operations manager and co-owner of the academy, said a student at the academy’s Rochelle location recently received a grant through Our Military Kids for her dance lessons. The student’s father is serving overseas.

“Our Military Kids is a great way to honor the children of our servicemen and women who have to cope with being away from a parent,” she said.

The dance benefit will include the academy’s dance students and competitive dancers. The program will include ballet, jazz, contemporary and lyrical dancing, and may include folk dancers, Riley said.

The performance will be at 6 p.m. Wednesday, April 16, at the Duke Ellington Ballroom inside the Holmes Student Center, on the campus of Northern Illinois University. Tickets are $10 for general admission and $5 for students. For more information, call 815-899-1307.

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