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Fund Lets Dancer's Spirit Live

The Kaia Parker Fund for Young Dancers was created by her family and the Orange County Arts Commission, the Ballet School of Chapel Hill and Carolina Friends School in honor and in remembrance of her life.

Parker, who was a rising UNC freshman, was killed in a car crash by a drunken driver last August.

Lee Glenn, Parker's mother, said the fund is a wonderful opportunity to create something positive out of her death.

"Even though her death involved alcohol, her focus would not have been on that but on what was sourceful to her life, which was dance," Glenn said.

The fund, which is supported by a combination of local Chapel Hill organizations and businesses, will grant money to promising young dancers between the ages of 12 and 20 who exhibit talent in dance. Donors will make annual contributions.

Glenn said Carol Richard, the administrator and co-owner of the Ballet School of Chapel Hill and Parker's teacher, had a major impact on Parker's life as a dancer.

Richard said she decided to start a memorial fund because it would be more lively than something hanging on a wall.

"We decided to commemorate her life with a scholarship fund to boost the careers of young dancers, opposed to setting up a plaque," she said.

Ann Kaplan, the director of the Orange County Arts Commission, said the fund-raisers could not have raised the money without all the help from the organizations.

"We raised just under $4,000 for three months with the help from Kaia's family, the Ballet School of Chapel Hill and the Orange County Arts Commission," Kaplan said.

Kaplan also said thousands of grant dollars have been raised thus far from letters sent out by Parker's family to peers, parents, family and close friends.

Richard said the organizations are hoping to award two young dancers from this yearly contribution.

"We are hoping to give two $500 awards this year," Richard said.

Kaplan said those who are interested in competing for the grant must reside in one of five specific locations.

"In order to be eligible, applicants must live in Orange, Durham, Chatham, Alamance or Wake counties," she said.

Richard said the application also requires a written and visual presentation.

"We do ask applicants to send video tapes of their choreography and a proposal of what they would do with the grant."

Kaplan said this memorial fund was meaningful for the organizations as well.

"We are honored that Kaia's family and teachers asked us to be a part of creating this program."

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