Blessed Mother Teresa once proclaimed, “Joy is prayer. Joy is strength. Joy is love. Joy is a net of love by which you can catch souls.” Joy is radiating from Notre Dame Right to Life (RTL), as members of the club devote themselves to defending life by celebrating it. Several RTL club members recently celebrated life by participating in a night of dancing with the Hannah and Friends family.
Hannah and Friends is a local nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the quality of life of children and adults with special needs. Founded in 2003 by former ND football coach Charlie Weis and his family, the organization supports families across the country with special needs children. In South Bend, Hannah and Friends provides a loving home for these individuals and offers several programs through which participants can learn, grow, and develop, while having fun. These programs range from cooking classes to evenings of karaoke and dance parties.
Nearly a dozen members from RTL joined the Hannah and Friends family at their most recent dance party, celebrating life with singing, dancing, and pizza. Roscoe Anderson, a senior in Stanford Hall, remarked on the pure excitement of the children: “It was great to see how much fun the kids had while dancing,” he said. “Some of those kids could really bust a move.”
Katie Teitgen, Director of Operations at Hannah and Friends, believes that events like these allow program participants and students to celebrate life together in a special way. “Hannah & Friends dance parties are a place for individuals with different abilities to come, have a great time and be themselves – no one is judging them, they feel welcome,” stated Katie. “We love having students volunteer for dances and activities. They not only help the participants have fun, but they also help them engage in social interactions, which is an important experience for individuals with special needs.”
These events, as well as other programs offered by Hannah and Friends, demonstrate the organization’s pro-life identity. This group defends life by recognizing and celebrating the dignity of people who are often dismissed as “special.” While these individuals have special needs, they also have special gifts. Their gifts reflect the beauty of life on an indescribable level. Their joy is contagious and transformative, and surely Blessed Mother Teresa would have remarked that their joy served as a net of love on September 29, catching the souls of each RTL club member they met. As this year continues, Hannah and Friends will host many more dance parties, and all are welcome to join them to celebrate life with the most joyful people imaginable.
Matt Povlock is a senior accounting/theology major in Stanford Hall who enjoys grizzly bear wrestling and alligator tickling…but only on weekends. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.