SARASOTA, Fla. — Watching your child excel is a priceless experience.
But for Jordan Soriano's family, his dance performances go to another level. The 18-year-old has autism, and now he's professionally competing on stage.
Soriano and others like him reaching heights his godmother Colleen Buccieri never imagined.
"They're out there with crowds. People are crying," said Buccieri.
The opportunity to perform came along unexpectedly.
"The Dynasty Star program started kind of on a whim actually," said Sarah Haworth a professional ballroom dancer out of Sarasota.
She got the idea after noticing her clients' little brother, who also has autism, watching her in amazement.
She started to dance with him and something clicked.
"He was just kind of hopping around and I thought wow that would be so much fun to start a program with kids and adults with special needs," said Haworth.
Haworth and her dance partner Colton Gannon created "The Dynasty Star Program." They reached out Buccieri through "Face Autism," a non-profit Buccieri founded nearly a decade ago to help kids like her godson.
"And I said ok it sounds like fun. I can handpick some kids and we can bring a few kids in and you know just let them have fun and dance," said Buccieri.
Never did the women imagine it would change lives. What started as three students is now more than 40 in a first of its kind program.
"In the nation absolutely in the nation," said Buccieri. "I have not heard of anything else like this."
People have donated thousands. The money helps pay for private lessons which lead to chances to compete.
"She has given them the confidence to be in front of blaring lights, loud music and large crowds in front of them. They have been really successful," said Buccieri.
"I have been so incredibly surprised with the reaction from the community and the parents," said Haworth.
And seeing their smiles fills a huge hole in her heart. Howarth has no real connection with anyone who has autism. But she knows the powerful therapeutic effects of dance.
"My sister, unfortunately, was killed by drunk driver and I kind of threw myself into dancing as a way to cope with the loss and it kind of does change my whole outlook on life and just wanting to live every moment to its fullest," said Haworth.
And now thanks to her dedication so are others, like Soriano.
Haworth's students hope to dance in New Orleans at the end of this month.
If you are interested in learning more or want to help, you can head to faceautism.com and mention 'Dynasty Stars' in the notes. Or you can call, 941-955-8558