The curtain goes up, the audience hushes, and out walks a group of dazzling women in glamorous costumes. Meet the Calendar Girls, a group of over 50 women who twirl, jump, and cha-cha to applause in venues across Florida.
"It's all for charity," Karey, one of the show's stars, explains. "Every penny we make funds Southeastern Guide Dog, a nonprofit providing service dogs to veterans. I am a veteran, and so was my son-in-law. He was shot twice in Afghanistan and suffered from PTSD, which led to self-medicating and eventually his death. And so when I learned about Calendar Girls' cause of providing service dogs for veterans with PTSD, I knew it was my cause. It's a sad story, but it turned into me meeting these lovely women and wearing fun costumes to dance for a good cause."
Terri, a fellow star, joined the Calendar Girls in 2014. "I just moved to Florida from New Jersey, and a new friend told me to call this dance troupe. She said they are incredible performers and do great work with veterans. So I called. Now my walk-in closet is filled wall to wall with eccentric glitzy costumes. The headpieces are beautiful, and the outfits are gorgeous from head to toe. My favorite is our patriotic costume. My mother was a dance teacher, and my father was a veteran of World War Two. They'd be proud of our work."
And who wouldn't be? Since 2006, the Calendar Girls have raised enough money to sponsor 26 guide dogs. Each of these guide dogs for Southeastern Guide Dogs costs tens of thousands of dollars to raise.
"This year, we will perform around 170 shows!" Karey says. "Those of us who are retired practice four days a week, so it's very intense."
Terri grins, "We don't sit around as retirees. We're fit, active, and busy. A few weeks ago, we had the honor of performing at the Sarasota Film Festival. It was a beautiful red carpet event. The Calendar Girls motto is maturity in motion."
"You're not getting older; you're getting better," Karey reminds us. "And you can do anything you put your mind to. It's all in perspective."