Village Elementary Student to Ride on the Lions Club Float in Rose Parade

Grace Dabbieri
Grace Dabbieri

The 2019 Rose Parade Theme is “The Melody of Life” and three musically-talented, Southern California Braille Institute students have been invited to ride on a parade float and wave to millions on New Year’s morning. Participants in Braille Institute’s Youth Program were selected to be part of this year’s Rose Parade festivities because of their love for music and singing, as well as being an inspiration to others. Grace Dabbieri of Coronado, along with Evelyn Maldonado, a 10th grader attending Anaheim High School, and Jorge Gonzalez, an 11th grader at Schurr High School in Montebello, will be riding on the Lions Clubs International float on January 1st.

Grace Dabbieri
Grace Dabbieri

Grace is an outgoing, active 5th grader who attends Village Elementary. She said she is super excited to be invited to participate in the Rose Parade and was quite surprised by the invite. Although she was born blind from a condition called Optic Nerve Hypoplasia, she has never let lack of sight keep her from pursuing her passions. She loves music and singing which includes taking piano lessons and working with a singing coach. She’s been asked to sing the national anthem twice, once by the Mayor of Coronado for the “State of the City” address and once for the opening of the summer concerts in the park. Grace also took third place for singing “Hallelujah” in the 2018 Coronado’s Talent show. She also enjoys cheerleading, girl scouts and is an avid braille reader and writer. “I love technology and was recently asked by Google to be in a series of videos they are making about how people with disabilities use technology to go about their daily lives,” says Grace. “I’m very excited to share how I use technology with others!”

Related: Grace Says, “Blind Can Do Anything!”

The “The Melody of Life” theme perfectly describes the outlook of the three talented Braille Institute students. “We know that loss of vision doesn’t mean loss of doing what you love, and our three students demonstrate such positivity and confidence through their musical and singing talents,” says Peter Mindnich, President of Braille Institute. “I cannot imagine a better group of young ambassadors to help us kick off our centennial celebration. We are thankful to Lions Clubs International for giving our students this special opportunity. Our connection to Lions Clubs goes all the back to 1925, when Helen Keller named the Lions Knights of The Blind for their good work to prevent blindness and help those with vision loss.”

Braille Institute will be celebrating its centennial in 2019. For a century, they have been empowering those who are blind and visually impaired lead productive, independent and fulfilling lives. Braille Institute supports over 37,000 people with vision loss a year, and provides over 300 classes and programs that are all free of charge. “Our students do not let vision loss define them or limit what they can do. We celebrate all of them in our centennial year!,” says Mindnich.

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Originally from upstate New York, Dani Schwartz has lived in Coronado since 1996. She is thrilled to call Coronado home and raise her two children here. In her free time enjoys hitting the gym, reading, and walking her dog around the “island.”Have news to share? Send tips, story ideas or letters to the editor to: manager@coronadotimes.com