McGrath Academy Celebrates the Month of the Military Child, Raises Funds for Semper K-9

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Provided by McGrath Academy of Irish Dance

McGrath Academy of Irish Dance

April is the Month of the Military Child. McGrath Academy of Irish Dance is a home away from home for lots of military-connected kids.

“Lily has lived in four places in her 11 years and her father has been gone two out of the last five years in Afghanistan,” said Cari Nielsen, who noted that her daughter first tried Irish dance at Celtic Steps in Colorado Springs. When they moved to Virginia, they found McGrath and have stayed with the school that she said has become a second family.

Each spring, the McGrath families come together to host a feis (pronounced “fesh”), which comes from the Gaelic word meaning “festival.” At the McGrath Feis, sponsored by Claddagh Irish Dance Association (CIDA), nearly 1,000 dancers ranging in age from 2 to adult compete in various skill levels – beginner, advanced beginner, novice, prizewinner, preliminary champion and open champion – performing traditional Irish dances in both soft and hard shoes.

The McGrath Feis was held on Sunday, April 22 at Hylton High School. The day started with a special competition and award presentation for dancers participating in their first competition. About noon, the eight stages scattered the school stopped the regular competitions and dancers of all ages and skill levels lined up for the “charity treble reel.”  This dance allows each dancer to showcase his or her own personal style with a specially choreographed set of steps. Some dancers changed into red, white and blue patriotic costumes while others buttoned their parents’ uniform jackets over their dance costumes.

“When the McGrath Feis was founded in 2013, CIDA members unanimously agreed that we wanted to increase awareness of the sacrifices made by service members and their families for the freedoms that we are allowed, and we wanted to contribute to an organization that supports our wounded service members,” said Lauren McGrath Dutton, ADCRG, TCRG, who founded the school in 2004.

For the second year, proceeds from this dance were donated to the Semper K9 Assistance Dogs, a local nonprofit that provides assisted-living K9s for wounded, critically ill and injured members of the U.S. Armed Forces and their families.



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