The unworn dance shoes

At the Downey Theater on Feb 25, Downey Dance team does an on going “A La Seconds” in their performance for TLC. “It feels great to perform for a good cause,” Valerie Varela said. “In this case it was for Raniyah who was doing what she loved to do when she passed.”

Mireya Navarro, Staff Writer

On Wednesday Feb. 25, the Downey High School Dance Team, along with dance studios like, Downey Dance Studio, Onstage Dance Center, Kimberly’s Dance Studio, and Santa Fe Springs Dance Center performed at the True Lasting Connections Benefit Dance Concert at the Downey Civic Theatre in memory of Raniyah Simmons, a former dancer at Downey Dance Center. All the proceedings of the concert are going to the Simmons family and to TLC—an organization that helps families in Downey.


Simmons, at the young age of 7, was preparing to compete in her first dance contest on Jan. 25 when she began to struggle for breath, leading to an asthma attack. Simmons was taken to Miller’s Children’s Hospital but passed away a few hours after being in a coma.


Simmons did not have the chance to dance, so dancers like senior Carolina Magaña—better known as Caro, felt as if she was dancing for her.


“I never knew her personally,” Magaña said, “but I think it’s sad because it’s relatable. It could have happened to me or anyone on the team.”


The performances made by the DHS dance team were to show their support for the Simmons family and also for Downey High fundraiser for TLC.


Leslie Patterson, Downey High’s Dance Adviser, decided to do this concert to give back to the community and also to honor the life of Simmons.


“It was my teams’ way of honoring and celebrating the life of Raniyah Simmons,” Patterson said. “It was my teams way of using their gift of dance to give back to our community and raise money for our school-wide fundraiser for TLC.”


Valerie Varela, 12, has danced in numerous competitions, but felt like this concert was one of the best things she has ever done.


“I danced the best I could because, like Raniyah, we never know when something can happen to us,” Varela stated.  “We shouldn’t take what we love for granted.”


Katherine Lopez, 12, supported and went to the concert because she heard about Simmons’ story from a friend.


“I don’t know how I feel about it,” Lopez said. “It’s really heart breaking so I’m just glad that I contributed to the cause while watching great performances.”


After the concert, the audience was thanked for attending and for supporting TLC.


The TLC program is where case workers help children and their families with health issues, child abuse concerns, family instability, mental health support, critical life needs, and parental skills. TLC makes sure that each student receives the right amount of physical, emotional, and intellectual support that they need.


March Madness began on Mar. 2 and ends on Mar. 30. Downey High School’s goal this year is to raise $42,000 for TLC.