Special to South Florida Times
FORT LAUDERDALE — First, they had a complete make-over, then they dined at a restaurant and then they were chauffeured in a limousine – to the ballet.
These were not high-society ladies but 11 Broward County mothers who spend their days caring for their special needs children.
They were being treated to a once-in-a-lifetime experience, courtesy of a group of caring businesses and individuals.
The honorees were Alanna Carson of Fort Lauderdale, Julie Fonseca of Coral Springs, Katie Gadson of Fort Lauderdale, Evelyn Gore of Coconut Creek, Natalie Johnson of Fort Lauderdale, Sandra Joseph of Pompano Beach, Tina Mahar of Davie, Dina Osorto of Davie, Manuela Quino of Oakland Park, Iris Sanchez of Pompano Beach and Elizabeth Torres of Wilton Manors.
Sylvia Roeder of Davie was also tapped for the event but illness prevented her from making the trip.
Their children receive medical care at the Children’s Diagnostic & Treatment Center (CDTC) in Fort Lauderdale and it was there that the idea for the ballet outing took shape.
The CDTC Transformers, a year-old professionals group affiliated with the center, decided to organize “One Enchanted Evening” as a tribute to the mothers of CDTC’s “Kids Wish Heroes” – children with special health care needs, such as Down Syndrome, cardiac disease, cancer or other serious condition who have shown courage in spite of their lifelong challenges.
One of the Transformers, Karen Kintner of Classical South Florida, got free tickets from the Miami City Ballet which has been staging Program II at the Broward Cnter for the Performing Arts in Fort Lauderdale as part of the company’s 25th anniversary season.
But the women just couldn’t simply go to the ballet.
They met at CDTC during the afternoon and were greeted by former CDTC board member and Leadership Council chairwoman Audrey Millsaps, who was dressed up as their Fairy Godmother, presented them with corsages donated by John Kalis, general manager of the Publix at Harbor Shops.
Then they were taken in hand by another CDTC Transformer, professional make-up artist Margarethe Sorensen. After that, they were taken by limosine to be treated to dinner at Truluck’s Restaurant in Sunrise, where a special menu was prepared for them, facilitated by CDTC Transformer Keith Winn of Green Profit Solutions. Tuluck's showered them with gifts from the Red Door Spa.
After dining, the mothers were driven to the ballet in the limousine, courtesy of Associated Limo and facilitated by Scott Kaplan of Maroone Ford.
At the end of the show, they got gifts of chocolates.
“We are honored that these wonderful, loving and beautiful mothers — who give so much of themselves to their children will be able to relax this Saturday night and enjoy a Miami City Ballet performance for the first time in their lives,” Edward Villella, founding artistic director and CEO of Miami City Ballet, said before the show. “We welcome them and thank them for all of their hard work, dedication and love.”
The women got to see the ballet company perform George Balanchine’s La Sonnambula and Western Symphony, along with the premier of Twyla Tharp’s Baker’s Dozen.
The Opus One Orchestra played under the direction of Gary Sheldon, supported by the John S. and James L. Kight Foundation.
The outing was especially meaningful for Alanna Carson, a former dancer who studied ballet, tap, jazz and African dance.
“This evening is not just about what I do as a mother, it’s about what we all do and it feels good to be recognized, although we do not ask to be. We know our work is not in vain. It’s our duty as mothers,” said Carson, a single mom. “I cannot improve my child’s physical condition but I can love him, provide and pray for him on a daily basis.”
South Florida Times Executive Editor Mohamed Hamaludin contributed to this report.
Alexis Caputo may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.