Brendtro’s show must go on

SIOUX FALLS, SD (KELO) – We’re able to take you behind the scenes to see and hear the preparation of upcoming shows later this week in Sioux Falls.

Raena Brendtro is a 20-year-old Sioux Falls resident who will be a student at Augustana University this fall. She’s studying English and Classics at Augie, and she knows what she wants to do someday.

“I want to be a teacher,” Brendtro said. “I am a lifelong learner. “

“She’s the most upbeat and pleasant person you can meet,” said Blake Anderson.

“He is the most competent person I have ever met,” said Tatiana Chance. “She’s so sweet.”

Blake Anderson, a student at Tufts University in Massachusetts and a longtime friend of Brendtro’s, is the director of the upcoming Fine Arts for Friedreich’s Ataxia show.

“It’s wonderful, stressful and brilliant at the same time,” Anderson said.

Tatiana Chance, a student at Augustana University, is one of the emcees, but not the only one.

“We’re going to have Broadway and MC songs,” Brendtro said. “I’m an MC, very excited about it, and then at the end I give a speech, just kind of FA and I like what I’m going through and all, and we’ll have a silent auction at intermission. . “

“I think what’s really amazing about the youthful aspect is how all of us are students putting that on,” Anderson said.

Brendtro was diagnosed in 2013 with Friedreich’s ataxia, or FA. She uses a wheelchair because of this rare disease which damages the nervous system. 2016 saw the birth of Friedreich’s Fine Arts for Ataxia, or FA4FA for short.

“It was started in 2016 by a few friends of mine who put together the first FA4FA show as a kind of surprise for me, and we have continued it every year since and I took over a few years ago”, Brendtro said. .

The Fine Arts for Friedreich Ataxia raises funds for the Friedreich Ataxia Research Alliance. Brendtro says the annual goal is $ 10,000.

“The show means a lot to me because my friends and I are just trying to give a new FA narrative beyond, I guess, what you would see at first glance,” Brendtro said. “I’m not just a chronically ill wheelchair user; I am more than that. I’m a performer and always smile and laugh and have a great time living. ”

“Raena Brendtro is one of my best friends and she’s just able to fundraise for a good reason to find a cure for Friedreich’s ataxia and raise awareness as well,” Chance said.

Anderson has high praise.

“I’ve been in theater for over 10 years now, and some of these kids, the way they play and sing, outperform some of the professionals I’ve seen in my many years of attending theater,” said Anderson.

The illness that affected Brendtro does not sum it up.

“I don’t just want to be seen as a person in a wheelchair because my whole life is separate from my illness, and my illness kind of added to my life,” Brendtro said.

So here she is and here they are all getting ready to put on a show.

“I have so much going for me and so much personality and so much that I’m passionate about that isn’t even FA,” said Brendtro. “And so I think FA4FA was a really good way to just bring together things that I am passionate about like musical theater and performing with just the disease being the underlying cause like why we sing and why we play. ”

The show will have two performances: one at 2:00 p.m. and another at 7:00 p.m. next Saturday at O’Gorman High School in Sioux Falls.

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