Group with developmental disabilities wins gold medal for dance

REDWOOD CITY, Calif. (KGO) -- Growth comes from pushing ourselves to do things we've never done before. For a special group of young people in Redwood City, it led to a gold medal performance at the Winter Special Olympics in Austria.

Developmentally disabled clients at Kainos Home & Training Center learn skills to develop independence, such as cleaning and doing laundry at the YMCA.

But they were offered a chance to do something they've never done before -- dance. And to go before an audience of 15,000 people at the Winter International Special Olympics in Austria last month.

They practiced for three months, using choreography from Louis Van Amstel, a Special Olympics ambassador and performer on ABC's "Dancing With the Stars."

VIDEO: Kainos Home & Training Center clients dance at Special Olympics in Austria
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A group of young adults with developmental disabilities dance at the Winter International Special Olympics in Graz, Austria.

"They didn't know going in that they would get gold, but they worked so hard, and their performances and the way they expressed themselves just won over every judge," Kainos executive director Andy Frisch said.
The gold medals are a source of pride back home in Redwood City for extraordinary achievement.

"I'm sure it's just going to be very, very life changing for them just in terms of their self-confidence," volunteer dance partner Cheryl McGovern said.

When asked how it feels to have the gold medal, dance crew member Eric Tomita said, "It makes me happy to wear the gold."

Flying to Austria was a first for dance crew member Julie Flanhava. "This was my first time doing that. I liked the airplane, I don't like bumpies," she said.

She was confident she could teach clumsy ABC7 News Reporter David Louie the dance moves that turned her into an international celebrity, but the truth was she was the better dancer.

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A group of young people with developmental disabilities just made Redwood City proud!

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