#93: Redefining the Impossible with Dancing Wheels Founder Mary Verdi-Fletcher
If you’re human, then you know what it feels like to experience moments of self-doubt. It’s easy to let thoughts creep in and limit us from achieving our full potential. But what if we could get better at knocking down those mental barriers? What then would be possible?
Today I’m talking with my inspirational friend Mary Verdi-Fletcher. She’s here to discuss how she’s using dance to educate and inspire the disabled and able bodied alike to believe our disabilities don’t define us.
Mary Verdi-Fletcher is a true pioneer. She is America’s first professional wheelchair dancer and has taken a field where disabilities were not accepted and worked endlessly to shatter stereotypes, change attitudes, bring hope, advocate for inclusion, and essentially be an agent of change.
Despite being born with spina bifida, Mari has worked tirelessly to open the doors of opportunity for people with disabilities who wanted to pursue their goals on an equal ground with their non-disabled peers. This determination ultimately led her to found The Dancing Wheels Company in 1980 in Cleveland, Ohio, which was specifically formed to employ professionally trained dancers, with and without disabilities.
The Dancing Wheels Company has reached audiences of over 5 million people with awe-inspiring school assembly programs, workshops, residencies, and main stage concert performances worldwide.
If you’ve ever convinced yourself that you couldn’t do something, I can promise this conversation will show you what’s possible when you believe in yourself.''Oftentimes people think disability is inability, which it’s not.'' – Mary Verdi-Fletcher Click To Tweet
Here’s a Quick Breakdown of Our Chat…
- [10:30] Mary discusses her Dancing Wheels School and Company, its mission and how one encouraging phrase from her mother made it all possible.
- [16:25] Mary’s definition of dancing and how she uses this interpretation as inspiration to achieve any goal.
- [18:50] Learn how the lives of Mary’s able bodied students are positively affected due to their close interaction with their disabled dance partners.
- [21:05] The single biggest obstacle Mary would have to overcome in her early 20s and how that decision would open the door for everything to follow.
- [28:05] Listen as Mary recounts her favorite Dancing Wheels success stories and the one story which will bring a tear to your eye.
- [35:08] Learn Mary’s advice to live by and how she uses it to turn any obstacle into an opportunity.
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Links and Resources
- [SITE] DancingWheels.org
- [SITE] Dancing Wheels Company & School YouTube Channel
- [ORG] World Center for Integrated Dance and Art Access
- [EVENT] Front Row Foundation Summit
- [EVENT] Front Row Factor Dad’s Retreat
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