‘Tis the Season for Wishes

By on November 20, 2018

Last year, little Zendaya Jackson had her wish granted.

Known as Daya, she was a Make-A-Wish child who got to go to Disney World, thanks to fundraising by Lititz Academy of Dance CoJoMotion dancers.

“My favorite was meeting Belle,” said Daya, now almost five years old. “I liked the princesses.”
Daya is a princess herself.

When she was three years old, Daya was diagnosed with Wilms tumor, a form of cancer that usually affects the kidneys. Her mother Jasmin Duran was shocked to find that her little girl had stage 4 cancer that also affected her lungs.

“She underwent chemotherapy and radiation at CHoP (Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia) and by last February, she was in remission,” said Duran. “We are so grateful.” Duran and Daya’s big sister, Diamond, are also grateful to Lititz Academy of Dance for raising money to grant Daya’s wish to meet her favorite Disney characters.

“Daya was the first Make-A-Wish child to have her wish granted on stage at our holiday show last year,” said Lisa Kalinowski, Lititz Academy of Dance founder and artistic director. Last year, Daya Jackson and her family joined CoJoMotion dancers on stage during the show to learn that Make-A-Wish was sending the Jackson family to Disney World. This year, nearly-five-year-old Daya will have a part in the show. She is also hoping to take ballet classes at Miss Lisa’s dance academy, and so is Diamond.

“Daya loves to dance. Her favorite song is Alicia Keys’ “Girl On Fire,” said her mother.

Daya Jackson (middle) poses proudly with her friends from the Lititz Academy of Dance. (Left to right, they are): Erin Fulmer, Kayla Bennecoff, Cora McBee, Miranda Hess, Mary Schnabel, Amelia Risser.

Kalinowski quickly noted that both Jackson girls have a spot saved at her dance academy.

“One of the greatest joys of my entire career has been to see the genuine joy that our dancers have in using their art to help others. I love that they see that one person can make such a difference,” said Kalinowski.

Lisa attributes the success of raising over a quarter of a million dollars to the studio staff, company members, and parents through the years.

“It is so beautiful to see these families work together. When I think of all the dancers and families who have contributed to A Season for Wishes over these past 14 years, it really is a legacy of love,” she said.

It makes her even happier to know that the tradition continues this year. The 14th annual “A Season for Wishes” holiday dance extravaganza to benefit Make-A-Wish will be held Saturday, December 1, at 6 p.m. at Manheim Township High School.

The event features a variety of performances from the Lititz Academy of Dance CoJoMotion dancers, from tap to jazz, modern to ballet, and Rockette-style kick-lines, all set to the music of the season. Local singers will perform holiday tunes, with families impacted by Make-A-Wish sharing their touching stories.

In addition, attendees may choose to participate in an event raffle, including a variety of items from televisions to spa packages, to raise donations beyond tickets sales. Poinsettias and baked goods are also available, and Santa will there to visit with children and take photos before the show at 5 p.m. Every year, The CoJoMotion Dance Company performs this holiday show to raise funds for Make-A-Wish of Philadelphia, Delaware and Susquehanna Valley. Proceeds have raised more than $290,000 since the show started 13 years ago.

Information on this year’s show:
A Season for Wishes
Saturday, Dec. 1, 6 p.m.
Manheim Township High School
Advance ticket sales: $15
Tickets at the door are: Adults $20, students $15.
Contact: 717-560-4000 or email cojo_wishes@lititzacademyofdance.com for more information.

Laura Knowles is a freelance feature writer and regular contributor to the Record Express. She can be reached at lknowles21@gmail.com. 

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