DCDC dancer and ill girl bond through struggles

‘Sparkle’ Williams inspires a Moraine 4th grader.‘If Sparkle can do it, I can do it.’

Sheri “Sparkle” Williams, perhaps the most popular fixture in the Dayton Contemporary Dance Company, has little time to devote to individual admirers, but made an exception for a Moraine 9-year-old who touched her heart.

A teacher’s aid approached Donald Hubbard, DCDC’s director of Education & Outreach, at Bishop Leibold’s West Campus during a DCDC 2 performance this year to ask if Sheri would be going to the East Campus where her daughter’s a fourth-grader.

“She said her daughter had a serious illness and was inspired by ‘Sparkle,’ the documentary on Sheri’s comeback,” Hubbard recalls. “Sheri doesn’t do school programs, but I told her she’d be at the Dunbar House workshop.”

A case of strep throat four years ago went through Bethany Scearce’s system and into her brain, resulting in brain lesions, Tonia Scearce said. “We were told she might not be able to walk, see right or hear. She left the hospital with a walker.

“Bethany — who had enjoyed dancing, singing and acting — was going through therapy when we took her to the Dayton Art Institute in 2012 to see the documentary about Sheri’s struggles with an injury, then her comeback performance,” said Tonia. “Afterward, Bethany said ‘If Sparkle can do it, I can do it.’ ”

She and her father, Bob, attended the Dunbar House program. “A girl wanted to give Sheri a special card,” recalls Hubbard. That card was Bethany’s, and it told Sheri how much she loved her — Sheri was her hero.

“Later, Sheri, Jay Peterson (director of Marketing & Special Events) and I received tickets to a play that Bethany was dancing in; we went, and got to meet Bethany and her family.”

According to Tonia, “During the curtain call, they called Sheri to the stage and Bethany presented her with a rose. Later, they gave us tickets to a DCDC concert, and, since then, Sheri’s attended another of Bethany’s shows with the Children’s Performing Arts of Miamisburg.”

“Sparkle’s really, really good, and I was happy when I got to meet her,” said Bethany. ”She came to my performances, and I felt very proud. I remembered what she had to go through and what I had to go through, not being able to do anything for months — it made me do my therapy harder.”

“After learning about Bethany’s situation, I was definitely going to attend her performance,” said Willams, who will receive the 2014 Ohio Arts Council’s Individual Artist Award next month.

“Bethany’s ailment was so major, yet I inspired her with my little hip injury — she inspires me with her passion. She’s infectious and enjoys what’s happening right now. We text and talk often, and I have a schedule of her performances — she’s my new ‘BFF.’ ”

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