A metro teen who was killed in an auto accident early last year lives on through her legacy of dance. Hope’s parents, Charla and Nick Shaffer, founded Dancing for Eternity to provide dance scholarships and opportunities for metro children who cannot afford them.
Hope believed all children should be able to learn the art of ballet if they had the desire, so in her memory, the organization provides dance scholarships for students to local studios, hosts dance programs, puts on a free summer camp and provides financial and material support to aspiring dance students.
The nonprofit organization was founded in February 2020 and has since provided scholarships for five aspiring dancers. As Hope’s family was determining how to best honor their daughter, a family member reminded them of Hope’s dream to teach children who couldn’t afford ballet lessons, and Dancing for Eternity was born.
“She loved children — they would just naturally gravitate toward her,” said Charla. “Knowing my daughter’s heart, she would be hugely humbled that people are supporting her dream and overjoyed for these students to be able to take lessons and pursue their own passions in ballet.”
Dancing for Eternity will host a free summer camp for dancers ages 8 to 12 on June 7 through 9, with a dance showcase on the evening of June 10. The camp has availability for 40 students and the application deadline is May 3. Campers will be accepted on a first-come, first-served basis.
It has not yet been decided whether the camp will be offered in-person or virtually. Campers will learn ballet technique, a choreographed dance and enjoy a worship-dance class and faith-based devotions. Campers can check out ballet shoes from the camp’s ballet shoe library if they don’t have their own and can wear any activewear they already own.
Community members can support Dancing for Eternity in a variety of ways, from donating gently used or new ballet shoes, solid-color leotards or pink ballet tights; recommending a deserving student for a scholarship or providing tax-deductible monetary donations.
“It costs us $750 to provide one scholarship for a student for a season,” said Charla. “If our five current students want to continue and reapply [for the next season], they will be accepted first, but as people continue to donate we hope we can support more scholarships.”
Dancing for Eternity will host a virtual Open House via Zoom on Feb. 27 at 2 p.m. for community members who want to learn more about the organization’s mission. On March 31, Hope’s birthday, a free virtual ballet class will be available at 4 p.m. at facebook.com/Dancing4Eternity. Hope’s family is asking for community members to consider making a tax-deductible donation of $17 to the organization in honor of what would have been Hope’s 17th birthday. Donations are not required to take part in the virtual ballet class.
As Dancing for Eternity celebrates its first full year of operation and commemorates over a year of missing Hope, Charla wishes her daughter could have seen her dream come to fruition, but she is grateful for the opportunity to support young dancers on Hope’s behalf.
“The biggest blessing has been to see the joy these girls have to be able to reach their dream,” said Charla. “Some say they had been praying to be able to take ballet lessons, and it’s pretty cool to be the answer to their prayer. When they say they are dancing for Hope, that warms my heart.”
For even more free and low-cost summer camp opportunities, check out this list of non-profit summer camps for kids with a variety of interests and abilities in the Oklahoma City metro and beyond.