Mount Olive’s Theater Dance Center Celebrates the New Year with January Fundraiser to Benefit Children with Cancer

By  Dawn M Chiossi

     Making dancers’ dreams come true for more than 25 years, Mount Olive’s Theater Dance Center is celebrating the brand-new year with caring, empathy, and giving back to others. On Sunday, January 20th, they will be hosting their 3rd annual Gala to benefit the Fighting Children’s Cancer Foundation. 

   Taking place at the Mount Olive Performing Arts Center, at 1:00 pm, dancers combine the lovely artistry of dance with the strength and determination to make a difference. Tickets will be approximately $12.00 with 100% of the proceeds going to the Fighting Children’s Cancer Foundation. 

     In past years, Theater Dance Center raised an impressive $18,000 for the foundation, and they expect to raise even more this year. Founded in 1998, the Fighting Children’s Cancer Foundation located in Fairfield, seeks to provide needs-based assistance to families enduring pediatric cancer.

     In a staggering fact, in New Jersey alone, approximately 500 children are diagnosed with cancer every year. Approximately 75% of families will have to reduce working hours or stop working altogether to take care of their child and families. 

        Realizing that a diagnosis of cancer shreds at families, not only physically, but emotionally, and financially as well, the Fighting Children’s Cancer Foundation seeks to soften that financial hardship.  Examples of the assistance provided can include, family mortgages, utility bills, car payments, groceries, health insurance premiums, and more.

     Through donations the Fighting Children’s Cancer Foundation can directly pay for necessary expenses so that parents can focus exclusively on their sick child and their families. Mount Olive’s Theater Dance Center’s annual Gala/Benefit is a prime example of help in motion for this organization.

   Demonstrating their talents, skills, and hearts to help aid children with cancer, the Theater Dance Center invites everyone to enjoy a day of dance, while supporting these brave kids and their families. There’s a little bit of every kind of dance for people to enjoy: Jazz, Hip-Hop, Lyrical, Musical Theater and more. There will be group dancing and solos, something to inspire every taste out there. 

     The benefit is a wonderful example of kids helping kids and officials there are thrilled. However even more than dance, or enjoying a day out, this event will feature speakers and cancer survivors.. 

     “We want people to know that cancer is survivable,” Owner Milene Michel asserts. “In addition to making donations, the goal of the gala/benefit is also to spread awareness regarding early detection of cancer. This includes the importance of getting screened regularly, and taking care of health, so that cancer can be eradicated as soon as possible.”

    Founded in 1991, Theater Dance Center started with humble beginnings.  Owners Milene Michel and Mary Ellen Volz teamed up when they realized they shared the same passions: Dance, children, and a need to inspire others. 

     According to Michel, the idea for the Theater Dance Center’s Gala/ Benefit was born out of a simple idea that: “Cancer affects everyone,” and they literally twirled into action.

      Michel shares that she herself was diagnosed with the disease, as well as many others close to her, including her ballet mistress, one of her dancers, and a friend she had lost to cancer as well. Instead of letting it get her down, Michel and the Theater Dance Company turned outward to see what they could do for others. “Many people are going through it. It’s only natural to help,” she says.

     Throughout the years, the Theater Dance Company’s Gala/Benefit has aided various organizations such as Stand Up to Cancer, as well as others. Michele asserts that the first year of the benefit they were naturally focusing on proceeds going towards cancer research, but throughout the years, that focus has changed, to help on a more personal level. 

     When they found the Fighting Children’s Cancer Foundation, they knew they just had to help, seeing the kids behind the disease. “We want to help out children and families at the local level in New Jersey,” Michel enthuses.

     Feedback for this event has been amazing. “Everybody is very positive, and the community has been very supportive in helping us.”  Michel says gratefully.

    “My favorite thing is trying to help people fight this disease and make an impact, all the while having everyone come together as a community at a fundraiser like this. We are so excited about helping this charity,” she shares. “This is a very real, important, and totally different way of helping. The kids are worth it.”

   For further information, details, or to purchase tickets, please visit or call 973-584-5020.

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