Dance teachers Pay it Forward by teaching dancing to people battling Parkinson’s disease

Pay It 4ward

NORMAN, Okla. (KFOR) – Many families will do Thanksgiving by Zoom to give thanks together.

This is another Zoom many are giving thanks for – a dance class. A Zoom dance class for those battling Parkinson’s, like John Gerber.

“Well, I’ve had Parkinson’s for 22 years and I’m still able to function at a pretty high level and it’s directly due to the things like these ladies are doing for us,” says John.

The ladies are Kathleen Redwine, Christa St. John and Leslie Krause of the OU School of Dance.

“You know it’s been something I’ve been interested in. My husband has Parkinson’s and he’s about 10 years along in his journey with this disease, and I had heard of dance for Parkinson’s, and it would really thrill me to share my passion for dance, which I have done all my life in such a wonderful beneficial way and a joyful way with people who have Parkinson’s,” says Kathleen.

Christa says it opened her eyes to new avenues for dance.

“I was just thrilled to see how dance could be used in a different way. It really challenged what some of my preconceived notions about what dance is and what it could be,” says Christa. “I think it has absolutely been effective. I think not only the movement and the dancing that we do in class, but also the social time, the connections and bonds that everybody forms before and after our classes.”

Leslie agrees that it’s all about the interaction.

“Just meeting them and getting to interact with them is such a bonus over the dance class. Dance is for everybody. Dance isn’t just for professionals. Dance is not just for the performance arts sector. Dance is for everyone,” says Leslie.

Kathleen sees a transformation in her “dancers”.

“We dance, we smile, we laugh and one thing we have heard from people with Parkinson’s is that for a while they are not a patient – ‘I’m a dancer’ – and we adapt the class to any level of disability,” says Kathleen.

Some dancers are a little apprehensive at first, according to Christa.

“People show up the first time really unsure about what they are getting themselves into and then they are hooked and then they come back every week and they love it and it’s really great to see that shared experience with family members,” says Christa.

And Leslie say it’s not play time, it is a workout!

“I think it’s important for people to know it’s a dance class. It’s a real dance class. There are combinations, there is musicality. There is flexibility, there is strength. So, anybody who is going to take it is going to be like, ‘I took a dance class,'” says Leslie.

Now, the ladies thought I was simply doing a story about their class, but John had a surprise for them. He had nominated the ladies for our Pay it 4ward.

And that is much appreciated by our friends and First Fidelity Bank.

“Everyone here at First Fidelity Bank thinks it’s a really wonderful thing that Kathleen, Christa and Leslie with the OU School of Dance are doing by offering their class for Parkinson’s patients. I think that is a really great thing for the community and I’m sure that the students have a lot of fun getting out there and learning how to dance. So, on behalf of everyone at First Fidelity Bank, I’m excited to present them with $400,” says Aubree Williams with First Fidelity.

John pops the surprise to the ladies!

“With Parkinson’s you need exercise or it’s going to get the best of you. We’re not on ‘Dancing with the Stars’ or anything, but man they make it fun. On behalf of the all Parkison’s people in Norman, thank you for doing this! We really appreciate you. On behalf of Channel 4 and First Fidelity Bank you will receive 400 for Paying it Forward.”

All three instructors are moved by John’s nomination.

“Thank you. Thank you, John,” says Kathleen. “Sorry if I get emotional here and teary. It’s a joy to know you and your beautiful wife Midge, and we love to have you in class, and we love to do our dance for Parkinson’s, and we thank you so much for nominating us for this award.”

Emotions shared by Christa.

“It is so much fun to see you in class, and we love having you, and we really appreciate the acknowledgment and the recognition. It’s wonderful! Thank you,” says Christa.

Leslie joins in to say, “John, you are total joy to know. I’m so happy that I met you here and I’m so thrilled to be in classes with you. Thank you so much. It means the world.”

Three dedicated ladies, paying it forward, building memories with dance, compassion and a song in their hearts.

Nominate someone for Pay it 4Ward!

Pay It 4Ward is a program through which KFOR-TV viewers can help someone they know who could use extra cash immediately.

Each week someone will receive $400 cash because one of their friends or co-workers wants to “Pay It 4Ward.”

When nominating, make sure to include your name, daytime phone number, who you nominate and why. Please follow all the criteria when nominating. 

Email all that detailed information to us for it to be considered.

Pay It 4Ward is sponsored by First Fidelity Bank.


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