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The Front Row Factor: Everything You Can Learn About Life From Those Fighting For It

Welcome to the Front Row Factor show! Here you'll learn "Everything you want to know about living life from those fighting for it." I'm so grateful you're here. Nice to meet you. I'm your host Jon Vroman, and In 2005, I co-founded a charity called Front Row Foundation, which helps kids and adults with life threatening illnesses to have a front row experience at the live event of their dreams. We then provide the tools to live EVERYDAY "in the front row," which is one of the reasons we host this show. The metaphor of the Front Row is about getting close to the people, places, things, and thoughts that make us come alive. We want to teach everyone in our community how to maximize their moments, because we never know how many we're going to have.
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Now displaying: Page 1
Jul 17, 2017

''Oftentimes people think disability is inability, which it’s not.'' – Mary Verdi-Fletcher

When was the last time you felt fully alive, free to express yourself fully and completely?

In an effort to protect ourselves from harm or being exposed to what we aren’t comfortable with, we often will create mental barriers that can hold us back. What would life look like if we decided to knock those barriers down? 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 had moments of doubt or convinced yourself that you couldn't do something, I can promise this conversation will show you what’s possible when you believe in yourself.

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.

''The arts are an avocation that chooses you. You don’t choose it.'' – Mary Verdi-Fletcher

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