Local celebrity dance competition to benefit Vermont’s visually impaired

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SOUTH BURLINGTON, Vt.

On Sunday, September 8, 2019, you can catch Chief Meteorologist Amanda Thibault on the Flynn Mainstage with six other local celebrities and their partners, competing for the title of Burlington’s favorite dancer. This exciting new event benefits the Vermont Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired (VABVI).

“I say this all the time, there’s more you can do than you can’t. And when people realize that, they have hope. And I like to say that we deal in hope. That’s the greatest thing we give to people is hope,” said VABVI Director of Adult Services Daniel Norris. VABVI was founded in 1926.

“As a visually impaired man, I want to be as independent as possible. And I want to continue doing things for myself because I can. I want to continue giving back to other people and being of service to others,” continued Norris.

Twenty-two-year-old Julia Bessy has been receiving services from VABVI since she was six months old.

“My parents found out I was visually impaired when I was maybe a couple of months old. It was devasting to my family. They didn’t know how much vision I had and if I would be blind at some point,” explained Bessy. “The eye doctor that my parents brought me to, referred us to VABVI.”

Bessy is one of 13,000 Vermonters who are blind or visually impaired. That number is expected to double by the year 2030.

“It’s not uncommon in Adult Services to be hugged. You come to their home and the person feels that their life is over and that they’ve lost an important part of themselves by becoming visually impaired,” explained Norris.

VABVI offers household items to make everyday chores and tasks easier. And, there are specialized teachers to help visually impaired students find success in the classroom.

“I know I am who I am and my family is who they are; so, I would have eventually found my way. But, VAB made my life so much easier in giving me adaptive technology and supporting me in school and various other different things,” reflected Bessy.

The assistance offered by VABVI is free of charge to clients. The association is funded through grants, donations and creative fundraising efforts, such as the inaugural dance competition.

“We have a full production. This is a big show. It was not an easy feat to create and there’s been a lot of players in it and a lot of people helping,” said Coordinator Vicki Vest.

On Sunday, September 8th, local celebs will hit the Flynn Mainstage for Burlington’s biggest night of dance.

“We have seven teams. The dance styles to my knowledge will all pretty much be different, which is great because we weren’t sure at first who was doing what. I’ll be honest with you, it’s been a well-kept secret. Not too many people are divulging what they’re actually doing, which is a good thing. It’ll be a surprise for the audience and for us, too,” explained Vest.

This is the first year for VAB’s new fundraiser. Vest hopes it becomes their signature annual event going forward. All the proceeds go back to the organization’s clients.

To vote for your favorite team and donate, click here.

To purchase tickets for the performance, click here.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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