When choosing music to dance to for this year’s Dancing With the Stars, Alexandria Riley says one song came to mind: Dorinda Clark-Cole’s hit, “I’m Still Here.”
For Riley, the 2002 gospel track has more meaning in 2020 than ever before.
“The song is fitting considering we’re still here despite the pandemic,” she said. Coincidentally, Riley met the Detroit-native singer at a Lighthouse event a few years back.
Riley competed in Dancing with the Stars two years ago and is excited to return. She inspired our audience in 2018 and won the competition.
At just 20 years old, Alexandria was involved in a lifechanging accident. While driving back to U-M Flint, her car was forced into the median on I-75 and flipped four times.
“I was hanging out of the sunroof for the first three flips,” she said. “On the fourth, I was thrown from the vehicle.”
The crash crushed Riley’s ankle and severed the nerves to her foot. Doctors had to amputate her lower leg.
“My mom had to scramble to get me a [prosthetic] leg,” she said.
Despite the obstacles of the accident, her injury, and a long recovery, Riley never gave up. Instead, she took on new challenges, and continues to dance. She’s looking forward to this year’s virtual event.
“Homelessness is such a big problem, especially in urban areas, like metro Detroit,” she said. “To be part of an event with an organization that is at the forefront of the problem was something I couldn’t pass up.”
Born and raised in Pontiac, Riley serves as the Sales & Development Director at the Genesee County Land Bank Authority. She has sadly lost multiple people to COVID-19 and she’ll be dancing, in part, to honor them as well.
Don’t miss Alexandria’s performance during the 12th annual Dancing With the Stars on Saturday, Nov. 21. Money raised during the virtual event will help provide food, shelter and services to those in need. Learn more at detroitdancing.org.
“As hard as the pandemic is for us, it’s that much harder for people who don’t have any resources, who don’t have a roof over their head. How can you follow a stay at home order when you don’t have a home to stay in?” she said.
Lighthouse’s South Oakland Shelter program is close to Shere’s heart. For years, she served on the SOS board and her synagogue has housed homeless guests.
“It’s amazing the work SOS does for families and, being on the ground at the synagogue, I’ve gotten to know many of them,” she said. “When the Lighthouse team asked me to [dance] again, it felt like an important commitment of time. It felt like something I could do during this time. There’s so many things we can’t do right now to improve the quality of life for ourselves and others, and this is one substantial opportunity to make a difference.”
Shere has witnessed Lighthouse’s impact on the community in the past. Although virtual, she has faith this year’s event will make a remarkable difference.
This year’s Dancing with the Stars virtual event will be held Nov. 21. Proceeds support Lighthouse’s efforts to fight hunger, homeless and poverty in Oakland County. Learn more at detroitdancing.org.