Cowichan dancer turns birthday disappointment into fundraiser

Cowichan dancer Ryland Racicot raised $800 for the Cowichan Valley Performing Arts Foundation through a birthday fundraiser last month. (Submitted)

Ryland Racicot’s 13th birthday didn’t quite go the way he hoped, but that didn’t stop him from making the most of it.

The Duncan dancer was planning to have a Hawaiian-themed dance party at the Duncan Community Lodge for his birthday on March 20, and instead of gifts, he asked guests to each bring $5 that he would donate to the Cowichan Valley Performing Arts Foundation.

When his party had to be cancelled because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Racicot changed his plan, setting up a fundraiser on Facebook for the foundation. The drive took less than 24 hours to surpass its initial goal of $500, and it reached $800 by the time it wrapped up on March 20.

“It’s exciting,” Racicot commented. “I definitely wasn’t expecting it to go that big.”

The CVPAF raises funds through donations and grants to assist with fees and costs for classes, workshops and conferences for kids participating in performing arts education and activities.

Racicot has been dancing since he was three or four years old, and wanted to do something nice for the performing arts community.

“It seemed like a nice way to give back,” he said. “Especially since it’s such a rough time.”

Racicot dances with Adagé Studio, and has been able to keep up with his classes in spite of the ongoing crisis, thanks to the Zoom remote conferencing service. That is especially important as Adagé prepares for its big production of Matilda. Originally scheduled for April 24 and 25 at the Cowichan Performing Arts Centre, the show has now been bumped to July 10 and 11, with backup dates planned for September.

In the show, Racicot plays Eric Shaffernickle, one of the students in Miss Honey’s class, who gets picked on by Miss Trunchbull. Miss Trunchbull, incidentally, is played by Alora Killam, who recently made headlines for her own good deeds in the time of coronavirus after she dressed up as Belle, who she played in Adagé’s Beauty and the Beast musical two years ago, to entertain kids who were stuck at home in Cowichan Bay.

Racicot reminds everyone to “stay safe and have a good time,” during the coronavirus crisis, and hopes his story can help inspire others.

“Everyone needs a bit of positivity at the moment,” he said.

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Cowichan dancer Ryland Racicot, pictured with partner Abigail LaPointe, raised $800 for the Cowichan Valley Performing Arts Foundation through a birthday fundraiser last month. (Submitted)

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