New Berlin — The same stretch limousine that took Green Bay Packer Aaron Rogers to a football camp in Waukesha and American Idol's Cassidy Pope and her band to a Bradley Center performance pulled up last week at a New Berlin home to pick up more VIPs.
The 17 very important people, all 6 and 7 years old, were anxiously awaiting it; and when that limo came, excitement busted out.
"When they saw the stretch coming down the street, the kids were screaming and running," said limo driver Joe Ludan, owner of Broadway Limousine, who has volunteered for many such charity excursions. This one was the centerpiece of Orchard Lane Elementary School's glitzy dinner-dance fundraiser dubbed "Dancing with the STARS," with the stars being the school's children and parents.
First grader Avery Nygard won the ride in a raffle on Valentine's Day at school, and he got to invite 16 friends to ride with him in style to the event. His dad, Jason, and another parent went, too.
The limo itself was on loan from the Paramount VIP and Limousine Service.
And when it came onto his street, Jason said he will never forget the kids' reactions.
"They had big eyes and their mouths were wide," and there were ooohs and aaahs, he said.
"I don't think they knew how big it was," Jason added with a smile.
Ludan remembers the children were joyous as only youngsters can be in beads and sunglasses.
They all piled in, Jason said, "and they were jumping and dancing around. They were having a good time."
The dancing didn't stop even after they buckled up. They rolled magnificently down the street singing to the radio and dancing in their seats.
And just like other VIPs when they arrive at their destination, kids in the limo drew up to a paparazzi line of parents and children with cameras ready.
With clicks popping all around them, the young VIPs entered the "Dancing with the STARS" event right through a giant star made under the direction of the school art teacher.
All in all, it was a great evening for Avery and all the youngsters, said Avery's mother, Sarah, who was helping in the library with the auction that was part of the fundraiser.
"They had a hoot," she said. "We had a DJ, and the kids had a fun time dancing."
Jason said he heard over and over again from the kids, "'This is the best night ever.' I think that was the quote of the night."
So, what was the best part for Avery?
"The dancing," the little guy piped up right away. And that limo was so cool, he might just like to own one someday, he said.
That feeling might have been shared by his classmates who got to have their pictures taken inside and outside the limousine for a donation to the Make-A-Wish Foundation in a separate fundraiser the student council ran.
The limo folks said they were happy to help out the fancy fundraiser sponsored by the school's Parent Faculty Council.
"It was a way to say 'thank you,'" said Lyth Aeed, Paramount operations manager, for all the help and kindness people showed them when he and the owners came to Milwaukee from Jordan in 1982.
Limo driver Ludan, who has owned Broadway Limousine for 31 years, said doing things for children feeds the soul, and he does a lot of things for children and schools gratis.
He was invited into the event and said, "Electricity was in the air with so many kids."
Ludan added that he often hears unsettling news about children, "and here were all these kids just having kids' fun. It was great."
Between Paramount and Broadway, event co-chairwoman Rachelle Fortier said she couldn't be happier.
"They were absolutely amazing; I couldn't be more appreciative," she said.
Proceeds from the event will go to programs the Parent Faculty Council supports such as literacy programs; assemblies; field trips; High Interest Day (a day filled with exposure to various hobbies and careers); gym and playground equipment; co-curricular activities; music recitals; and art programs and supplies.
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