Optimist club volunteers at community dance


photo by Trinity Turlington

JOOI members dance with the attendees at a Sunshine Dance.

Courtney Dziewior, HagertyJourn Managing Editor

With music pumping in the background, volunteers enthusiastically jump up and down to the beat.

On Oct. 9, the Junior Optimist Octagon International club volunteered at Riverside Park for their costume themed Sunshine Dance from 7 to 9 p.m.

The Sunshine Dances are a series of monthly, Friday night dances for teens and adults who are physically or mentally challenged. These dances allow special needs kids a chance to have their own fun event. Each dance has a different theme that can appeal to anyone within the large range of ages of those in attendance.

JOOI club members dance with the attendees at the Oct. 9 costume themed Sunshine Dance.
photo by Trinity Turlington. JOOI club members dance with the attendees at the Oct. 9 costume themed, Sunshine Dance.

“My favorite thing is that we can go there and know that they’re all going to be in the best moods,” Vice President Trinity Turlington said. “No matter how bad of a day you’ve had, they will all make you feel warm and loved and you might not have even met any of them before.”

Our schools chapter of JOOI works with Oviedo High School’s chapter, the Oviedo-Winter Springs adult Optimist club and the City of Oviedo to organize and staff the dances. Those volunteering for the Sunshine Dances show up 30 minutes early to help setup, and remain 15 minutes after the conclusion of the dance to take down the decorations, tables and chairs.

Aside from helping with the set-up, volunteers also get the chance to enjoy the music and dance with those in attendance. The dances range from the upbeat cupid shuffle to slow dances.

JOOI will continue to volunteer for the rest of the year’s dances as well as at a prom on Mar. 25, which will be hosted at Oviedo High School. They also volunteer at the Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children, local 5ks and at Riverside’s Haunted House.