Gay Games 9 Reception, Rock and Roll Reggae, Gala for Dancing Wheels Company

As a proud sponsor of Gay Games 9 coming up this summer in Cleveland, we attended a private reception to celebrate inclusive  sports in Cleveland on Thursday, April 10th, at the Quicken Loans Arena.
The only trouble was that we almost couldn’t find the reception once we were in the cavernous Q.

When we first arrived we picked up our tickets in Will Call and were then warmly greeted at the entrance by Mary Zaller, Development Director of the Gay Games, and David Robinson, Strategic Partners Manager, before we headed off to the reception which our ticket said was in the VIP Lounge on the 4th Floor.  But it wasn’t until we were up there and enjoying a tasty sandwich that it suddenly occurred to us that all of the people we knew  from the Gay Games were nowhere to be found so we checked with a gentleman from the Q staff who placed a call to Event Planning/Customer Relations Dept. and found out that somehow we were handed the wrong set of tickets; our event was actually in the newly created Court Club on the first floor.

Indeed it took us a few minutes to get from the 4th Floor to the 1st Floor and to walk around half of the Q but we finally found the Court Club (a really neat facility) where we were warmly greeted by Mary and David all over again who were wondering what happened to us and were considering sending out a search party on our behalf. Nevertheless, it turned out to be a fun time and well worth the confusion because we always enjoy hanging out with these good hardworking folks who believe very much in what they are doing. What’s more, we ended up having two delicious dinners that evening because, waiting for us in the Court Club after we finally trudged in, were vegetarian mushroom potstickers and crisps with a special spread made from olives which couldn’t be beat.

The next night we had to balance our time carefully so we could make to two events to show our support for two very important organizations that make us proud to be Clevelanders.

First, we went to the 2014 Rock and Roll Reggae at the Beachland Ballroom which was a fundraiser for the Free Medical Clinic of Greater Cleveland which started off in 1970 as a small clinic in a rented house run by a few caring people and has now grown to be the largest free clinic in Ohio which occupies a large building on Euclid Avenue and employs 50 people, not to mention its 600 volunteers.

The event ran from 7pm to 11pm and was composed of quite a few talented local musicians performing in both the tavern and the exhibit hall of the Beachland Ballroom. Unfortunately, we could only stay a short time but we had a nice visit with Joan Palumbo, the Director of Development of the Free Clinic, as well as several staffers and volunteers including a person who first came to the Free Clinic as a patient and is now a drug and alcohol counselor there.

We really respect the mission statement of our free clinic which is to “provide quality health care and and related services free of charge to those who lack appropriate alternatives and to advocate for policy changes that make health care available to all.”

And, finally, we quickly traveled to the Cleveland Public Auditorium to attend the 2014 Gala Benefit for the wonderful Dancing Wheels Company, founded in 1980 by our friend Mary Verdi-Fletcher, which unites the talents of dancers with and without disabilities and has touched the lives of approximately 5 million people through performances, school assemblies, residencies and workshops.

Needless to say the program that evening was sensational as always and we were particularly thrilled to see a young woman named Rachel up there on stage performing because one of our staffers has known her for years and also knows that she has had quite a struggle due to her disability, so we very happy for Rachel when she received a round of applause.

After we got home, we were inspired to look up the Dancing Wheels website and discovered a letter by Mary Verdi-Fletcher that states “the combination of incredible talent and energy throughout our entire team has made Dancing Wheels a doorway to full inclusion in the arts for all. We believe everyone has the right to participate and the diversity of age, ethnicity, gender and physical ability in our company proves that anyone can.”

And, for us, that says it all.