McGrath Academy of Irish Dance Raises Funds for Warrior Retreat at Bull Run

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Provided by Marianne Weaver

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The McGrath Academy of Irish Dance donated the $750.00 that was raised at their third annual feis to the Bull Run Warrior Retreat in Haymarket, Va.

“When the McGrath Feis was founded three years ago, 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 Dee Bills, CIDA member. “Many of our soldiers return with injuries that they will have to manage for the rest of their lives and their recovery can take months to years with long hospital stays. SOWW is a new organization to the Northern Virginia region and we wanted to increase community awareness of this wonderful retreat.”

A feis (pronounced “fesh”) 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 4 to adult competed in various skill levels – beginner, advanced beginner, novice, prizewinner, preliminary champion and open champion – performing traditional Irish dances in both soft and hard shoes.

Around noon, all six stages in the Hylton High School gym cleared, and dancers of all ages and skill levels lined up for the “charity treble reel.” The treble reel allows each dancer to showcase his or her own personal style with a specially choreographed set of steps. Some dancers changed into patriotic costumes. Proceeds from this dance registration – $750.00 – were donated to the Serve Our Willing Warriors Retreat at Bull Run, a 37-acre retreat in Haymarket, Va., that provides “a home away from home” for outpatient warriors and their families residing at the nearby military hospitals.

Retired United States Marine Dylan Arthur and his service dog Bella were in attendance to represent all those incredible men and women who have served in our military. Arthur graciously handed out the awards to treble reel winners and personally thanked each dancer for participating. He and SOWW representative, Becca Gorman, accepted the charity reel donation on behalf of the Warrior Retreat at Bull Run.

“Thank you everyone for the true blessing. Yours is another great example of local community support. This is exactly why we continue to thrive. God Bless you in all your endeavors,” said John Dominick, Vice-President/Co-Founder of Serve Our Willing Warriors – Warrior Retreat at Bull Run.

McGrath Academy of Irish Dance, based in Manassas, Va., was founded in January 2004. Classes are also offered in Lorton, Va., Purcellville, Va., Ashburn, Va., and Frederick, Md. Lauren McGrath Dutton, ADCRG, TCRG, is second-generation TCRG and 2003 world championship dancer. Ariel Raguso, TCRG, is a 2013 world championship dancer. For more information, go to

CIDA is a nonprofit group that promotes Irish dance and culture and supports the dancers of McGrath Irish Dance Academy. For more information, go to

For nearly a decade, Serve Our Willing Warriors (SOWW), a nonprofit 501 (c) 3, has provided “a little taste of home” for wounded, ill and injured warriors and their families at both the Walter Reed and Fort Belvoir Community Hospitals. The centerpiece of SOWW’s vision is the Bull Run Warrior Retreat—an 11,000 square-foot, five-bedroom home on 37 acres in the historic and picturesque Virginia countryside in Prince William County. Our Warriors and their families are invited to spend three to seven day retreats surrounded by an appreciative community that provides activities, special events and camaraderie under the desires of our honored guests.


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