MILWAUKEE - A Milwaukee dance team that gives youth a safe space to express themselves has the exciting opportunity to compete in Greenville, South Carolina; however, its dancers could be forced to skip the competition because of transportation costs.
Their fundraising deadline is fast approaching, but with the community's support, the Royal Heat Dance Team is still hoping for the chance to leave their best on the competition floor early next month.
"It's a lot of work," said Gloria McCoy, Royal Heat Dance Team founder and coach. "It's a lot of dedication, but it's worth it."
Inside a practice space on the city's north side, McCoy provides far more than a spot on her team.
"It's more of a dance family than anything," said McCoy.
Royal Heat Dance Team
McCoy started the Royal Heat Dance Team in 2018.
"I'm giving them something to do outside of school so they don't have to be in the streets of Milwaukee doing negative things," said McCoy.
The group's dancers come from different neighborhoods and attend various schools, but all of them are looking for a safe and fun outlet to do what they love.
"If you're having a bad week, you can come to practice and they'll just light up your day," said Arnesia Gagliano, Royal Heat Dance Team member.
"What I like about it is they are very comfortable to be around," said John Hughes, Royal Heat Dance Team member.
The team performs at local events and has gone head-to-head with other teams in Chicago and Iowa, but for the first time, they've been invited to the Elite Showdown Dance Competition in Greenville, South Carolina on Oct. 2.
"So this is the biggest competition for us yet," said McCoy.
There's just one thing stopping them.
"The bus is actually $9,994, to be exact," said McCoy.
Despite fundraising and parents contributing out-of-pocket, they still need to raise $5,500 dollars by Friday, Sept. 24 to guarantee transportation to the competition. Otherwise, they can't go.
"It would mean a lot to me," said Hughes. "If it happens, I will be so happy."
Royal Heat Dance Team
McCoy, on Tuesday, Sept. 21, said she's holding out hope that with the community's help, they'll get there.
"It would let them know they can go anywhere they put their minds to go," she said. "The sky is the limit. We can go beyond the highways and compete, and we can show the world what we're made of."
McCoy has started a GoFundMe.com account in hopes the community is willing to help them meet their goal.
To donate via Cash App, the Royal Heat Dance Team's username is $royalheat18.
McCoy, who currently rents out space for her team to practice, is also working to open her own dance studio.