By Molly SHELTON
This Saturday at 7 p.m., Heather Rivers’ Little Stars Performing Arts Academy will be hosting a dance benefit concert at Bellarmine Jefferson High School in Burbank to raise money for Camp del Corazon.
Camp del Corazon is a non-profit organization with a mission to provide year-round opportunities for children with heart disease. Held on Catalina Island, children ages 7 to 17 can take part in activities from kayaking and snorkeling to archery and arts and crafts. Every activity is led by a trained activity counselor and supervised by a nurse to ensure that each camper has a fun and safe camp experience. Little Stars director, Heather Rivers, chose to support this organization to give kids an experience they might not otherwise have.
“It gives children who normally have to be so careful with physical activities the opportunity to have a normal camp experience,” said Rivers.
Rivers has more of a connection to Camp del Corazon than just being a concerned philanthropist. She was born with a hole in her heart and without a pulmonary artery. She spent nearly all of her first five years in the hospital and was told that she would have to have heart surgery every three or four years to replace the hardware that was keeping her heart pumping. At the age of 17 she was told that she had three years before she would need another surgery. It has been more than 10 years and, after giving birth to a baby boy, Rivers thanks dancing for keeping her healthy enough to avoid surgery for so long.
Dancing through the heartache, Rivers was able to stay healthy and active, effectively prolonging the life of her hardware.
“Dance and fitness can do amazing things for your body,” she said. “You really just need to get out there and do it!”
Although this is the first staged fundraiser that Rivers has hosted, she is not new to philanthropic work. Four years ago she danced in a benefit performance raising money for Non-Hodgkin lymphoma research, where she made connections with dancers who will be performing in her concert this Saturday.
“[It’s been] a great experience so far, working with a range of dancers from 4 years old to adult,” she said adding she has enjoyed reaching outside of her own studio to bring in dancers who want to help.
Rivers is doing her part in being environmentally responsible by reducing waste as well. She’s bringing in two emcees for the show rather than printing out programs. The announcers are comedians who will keep the audience informed on what piece is next while adding a little bit of flare to move the show forward.
For more information call (818) 203-3755, or email Rivers at LittleStarsPerformingArts@gmail.com.