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Milwaukee Ballet program provides opportunities for children with special needs

Posted at 9:52 PM, May 10, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-10 22:52:12-04

The Milwaukee Ballet's Tour de Force program gives kids with special needs the chance to stretch their muscles and minds in new ways as they work with professional ballet dancers and physical therapists.

"Right away, our daughter Grace loved coming here," said John Schlueter.

Grace Schlueter, 5, has a very rare disorder known as Angelman Syndrome.

"People who have it are missing one gene, and they have great challenge coordinating muscle movement in their body," John said.

Grace has difficulty with muscle control and speech, but not brain function. She goes to school, and is learning how to read, write and communicate through an iPad. For her, being able to participate in a dance class is priceless.

"It's fantastic for special needs kids," John said.

John and his wife, Beth, are helping lead worldwide efforts to find a cure for Angelman Syndrome. They diligently raise funds and meet with researchers. Clinical trials of Angelman Syndrome, that worked to cure mice, are expected within the next two years for humans.

Until the dream of a cure for their daughter Grace comes true, the Schlueter's will revel in the smaller victories along the way, like ballet.

"Seeing joy in our daughter's face, brings joy to us as well," John said. "That's certainly true for any parent, but especially when a child has extra challenges. It just means even more."

The Schlueter's are hosting a fundraiser to benefit the Foundation for Angelman Syndrome Therapeutics. It's called "Golf for Grace" at West Bend Country Club on Mon., August 5th.