Niagara Gazette — Adam Daoust, 10, said a little prayer the morning of his last dance class.
He had been attending the free classes at Heart, Love and Soul Food Pantry in Niagara Falls during spring break and he wanted to win the prize being drawn on the last day of the classes — a free spot in a five-week arts and recreation summer program.
When they announced his name, he jumped into the air with joy. And it turns out his prayer was answered far beyond what he’d asked.
As the seven children gathered for their little graduation ceremony, celebrating the end of four days of free classes provided by students and teachers from Adell’s School of Dance on Military Road, owner Adell Manarino made a surprise announcement.
“You are all getting a free year of dance classes,” she said.
The classes were first offered last summer at the food pantry and there are plans to offer more this summer.
The idea came from Sister Nora Sweeney, a nun who works at Mount St. Mary’s Hospital Neighborhood Health Center in Niagara Falls. She deals often with clients of the pantry.
Sweeney knew the daughter of nurse practitioner Lisa Fincher Mergi was a dance student at Adell’s and asked Mergi if her daughter might want to teach children at the food pantry how to dance.
Hannah Mergi, 13, was already reaching out to help others, cutting her hair twice for Locks of Love and being the first to have her head shaved at a Lew-Port Middle School fundraiser for families dealing with cancer. But she was apprehensive about taking on the dance classes alone ... so she recruited several teachers and students from Adell’s, and suddenly there was music and fancy footwork filling the hallways of Heart, Love and Soul.