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Ridgefield teens perform for young cancer patients

Ridgefield Music and Arts Center students pose with their new friends at the Ronald McDonald House in New York. Standing from left: Ellen Sicinski, Linda Haines, Taylor Starr, Michael Rosamilia, Maddie Wroblewski, Allie Perlman, Thomas Fusco, Ali Sicinski, Kevin Haines, Catherine Heller, Michelle Ye, Olivia Koterska and Lisa Wroblewski. Front row: Ronald McDonald House patients and siblings.

Ridgefield Music and Arts Center’s (RMAC) annual trip to the Ronald McDonald House in Manhattan is one of the students’ favorites. Their performance is second to the fact that they provide joy for a few hours to the children and families who are current residents there. Ronald McDonald House New York provides a temporary “home-away-from-home” for pediatric cancer patients and their families. It is the largest facility of its type in the world.

“One of the challenges when planning the program for the house is that you never know how old the kids in the audience will be,” said Linda Haines, RMAC president. “This year, the ages of the kids and their siblings ranged from about 3 to 15. You also never know how many kids will feel well enough to come downstairs for the show. This year just happened to be the one with the largest audience ever.”

This year’s program started off with a drum circle, led by past RMAC student president Kevin Haines. It was complete with conga drums and a variety of percussion instruments. The children tried out the various instruments as they pranced about the room in a conga line, with RMAC students interspersed among them. Kevin transitioned to a beat-boxing performance to wrap up the percussion part of the show.

Ali Sicinski followed with her performance on keyboard with vocals. “The popular songs she played delighted the kids as they sang along to familiar songs,” Ms. Haines said. Taylor Starr and Thomas Fusco entertained the group with their improv games.

Allie Perlman, who participated again this year with her dance performance, explained techniques behind tap dancing, demonstrating many steps. She ended with an  tap routine.

“I love going to the Ronald McDonald House and interacting with the kids and families,” Allie said. “It is an amazing feeling to know that when I share my love of dance with them it brightens their day.”

Olivia Koterska, RMAC, shows Sophia a few chords on the ukulele.

Olivia Koterska brought out her ukulele, and after playing a few songs, she invited the children to try out her instrument. “She had several takers who were delighted to hear the sounds that they created from the fun little string instrument,” Ms. Haines said.

Musicians Michael Rosamilia (saxophone) and Michelle Ye (violin) added to the repertoire of the afternoon with their solos. “Seeing the faces of the kids light up when they heard the music was deeply affecting. I’m so glad I got the chance to be a part of something so inspiring,” said Rosamilia.

Throughout the visit, current RMAC student president Maddie Wroblewski and Catherine Heller worked with students on art projects, createing fancy 2- and 3-D snowflakes while enjoying the performances in the room. Maddie said, “It was something special to see the kids and their families smile and laugh and have so much fun. As part of RMAC, I was so privileged to be with the them.”

RMAC treated everyone in the house with a pizza lunch. In addition, they handed out RMAC hats to all the kids.

To see more photos of the event, visit rmacct.org/pastevents. To join RMAC, email Maddie Wroblewski at maddiefilly@yahoo.com.

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