The morning of Tuesday, June 22, was a rarity. Despite the 90-degree heat of the past days, a cold front had swept thru North Texas during the night resulting in morning temperatures in the 60s. It was to be a one-day reprise from the summer heat.
By 10 a.m. the temperatures had risen to the upper 70s, making it perfect for The Senior Source’s Diamond Dance-Off finals at Klyde Warren Park. As one person commented, “A day before or a day after and it would have been a different story.”
After weeks of folks submitting videos in four categories (solo, partners, group and generational), the big day had arrived for the dance-off by the winners of the categories.
As children played in the splash pads near the Muse Family Performance Pavilion, the finalists, their fans like Molly Bogen, Sandra Estess and Betty Houser and curious observers prepared for the dance-off that was celebrating The Senior Source’s 60 years of “enhancing the quality of life of older adults in Dallas.”
Taking her seat on the front row was Honey Pickens, who couldn’t resist swaying to the pre-event music played over the PA by emcee WFAA’s DJ LC.
Across the way finalists/longtime Senior Source supporters Kathy and Larry Helms told how they had been dancing for 55 years. After reporting that their favorite dance was the jitterbug, Larry laughed that he had to teach Kathy how to dance because, “she was a Baptist and they can’t dance. I’m Presbyterian.”
Just as the program got underway, the rows of chairs were shaded by the Pavilion. But as the dancers were introduced and performed, the shade gave way to the sunshine, causing some guests to scooch their chairs in the direction of the shade. Luckily, the staff was ready for the rising temps as they handed out hand fans to create a breeze.
First introduced were the finalists and other notable entrants who had been standouts from the submissions, like Yasmeen Ali and her Golden Girls, Hurricane Katrina transplant Renza Lewis, North Dallas Chamber of Commerce President/CEO Ken Malcolmson, the world’s oldest ballerina on pointe Madame Suzelle Poole, Honey, Michael “Pappa Phunk” Neemes, the Helms, Texas Cool Line Dancers, Granny Sydney Portilla-Diggs and 102-year-old Holocaust survivor Bronia Weiner.
With judges Texas Ballet Theater’s Andre Silva, NBC5’s Vivian Kwarm and retired Dallas Morning News columnist Steve Blow and Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson taking their places at the judging table, the four finalists — Texas Cool Line Dancers, Michael “Pappa Phunk” Neemes, the Helms and Granny Sydney Portilla-Diggs and her granddaughters — showed off their finest moves.
After a quick huddle among the judges, Eric announced that The Diamond Dance-Off Crown plus the $500 prize was won by Michael, to the delight of his fans. Upon receiving his check, he teared up and told the crowd that he was donating it to The Senior Source’s Beat The Heat program that provides AC units for clients in the days ahead.
As a surprise and a compliment to Michael’s act of kindness, his employer Retirement Planners of America matched the donation. The combined $1,000 resulted in the purchase of four air-conditioning units.
Michael’s and Retirement Planners of America’s generosities were a well-timed reminder. One doesn’t have to dance to help The Senior Source clients face the coming weeks of blistering heat.
For a look at more dance moves and faces, check out MySweetCharity Photo Gallery.