Lil’ Dawg and Lil’ Lady Dawg Homecoming Dance raises funds for Dyslexia programs

By BRITTANY FHOLER
Cove Leader-Press 

The inaugural Lil’ Dawg and Lil’ Lady Dawg Homecoming Dance hosted by Junior Miss Five Hills Dorianna Gilbert saw more than 150 people attend the dance at the Copperas Cove VFW Post #8577 Saturday evening. 
Tickets for the dance, which was aimed at children ages 2-12 and their parents, were $10 each or $100 for a VIP table of eight, which also included commemorative pictures and mums and boutonnieres for the children and gift cards for the adults. Funds raised will go towards the Copperas Cove Independent School District’s Dyslexia Programs.
By Friday afternoon, nearly 100 tickets had been sold, almost meeting the goal set by Wendy Sledd, Volunteer Director of the Copperas Cove Five Hills Scholarship Pageant. Later that evening, the number of tickets passed 150 and was cut off at 170, Sledd said. 
The venue was donated by the VFW Post #8577, while the food was donated by Chick-fil-A and drinks were donated by Raising Cane’s. An anonymous donor helped with the purchase of photography equipment to allow for pictures to be printed at the event, and Wal-Mart helped sponsor the event financially, leaving the biggest expense to be helium tanks to fill all the balloons, according to Sledd. 
Wal-Mart also presented a check for $250 to go towards the cause. 
The idea for the dance came after Junior Miss Five Hills Dorianna Gilbert, 9, learned that her friend was being bullied and called names because of the tinted glasses she wears to help with her dyslexia. Gilbert didn’t know what dyslexia was but went home and asked her parents. After learning that one in five students has dyslexia and that a child has a 50 percent chance of having dyslexia if one of their parents has it and a 100 percent chance if both parents have it, Gilbert decided to make Dyslexia Awareness her platform while she is Junior Miss Five Hills. Technically, platforms of community service are not required for the younger girls, but Gilbert insisted, according to Sledd. 
Gilbert said her favorite part of the dance was seeing people having fun while supporting a great cause. She escorted many kiddos down the red carpet and onto the dance floor throughout the two hour dance. 
Sledd said that the response from the community exceeded expectations, but that the best part was hearing from people who know someone with dyslexia and asking about how to help. 
Megan and Mathew Frazier have two children, Madeline, in fifth grade, and Liam, in second grade, who attend Martin Walker Elementary.  Mathew and their two children all have dyslexia, but they don’t let it define them, Frazier said. 
Mathew explained that dyslexia forces them to learn to approach a task in a different way and problem solve. He added that when a child has a learning disability, it shouldn’t be taken as a negative. For himself and his children, the dyslexia may explain some of their tendencies but it does not define them, he said. 
Megan shared that she liked how the community was embracing the needs of children with learning disabilities, who learn differently from the rest of the population. She added that it was great that the dance was bringing awareness to dyslexia and other learning disabilities. 
Megan said that some people have described a child learning to read as similar to a bowling alley, with the information going straight down the line. When a child has dyslexia, the information comes into the brain more like a pinball machine, bouncing around and eventually getting to the brain but taking a different avenue in how the information is processed. This is often helped with accommodations such as tinted glasses or other tools. 
“It’s no different than someone who has vision deficits and needs to wear glasses,” Megan said. “You don’t ask a person to take off their glasses and read a chalkboard.”

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