Thea Flanzer — the self-proclaimed “Bionic Girl” — is just 16-years-old, yet quite the impressive high school junior. On Saturday, May 18, she hosted Shine for the Spines, a cabaret event that raised nearly $7K for pediatric scoliosis research. Thea, herself, has battled pediatric scoliosis for two years before undergoing an innovative spinal surgery that left her with two metal rods in her upper back. To thank the doctors whose work allowed her to continue performing, the proceeds of Flanzer’s event are benefiting Columbia Children’s Health and Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital.
“This entire experience has been life changing,” Flanzer said. “I’ve been able to raise awareness for scoliosis through performing and hear so many scoliosis stories. I can’t wait to organize my next cabaret fundraiser!”
Thea, an actress and student, has been training at the Gateway School of Performing Arts since she was five-years-old, and has performed in professional shows at The Gateway Playhouse and off-Broadway.
She enlisted a spectacular group of performers to take part in The Artist Alignment: Shine for the Spines cabaret at the Vail-Leavitt Music Hall to benefit the Pediatric Scoliosis Research for Columbia Children’s Health. The evening included performances from artists with Broadway and National Tour credits, a 50/50 raffle, and a “lucky basket” auction. The creative team also included her mentors Michael Baker of The Gateway Playhouse, Virginia Mesiano of Backyard Theatre, and colleague/friend Ethan Eisenberg.
“I learned that it was possible for teens to organize big events like this at Laurel Springs,” Flanzer said. “[My classes] allowed me to meet speakers who made a difference as teenagers, and many kids in Laurel Springs’ National Honor Society have successfully started their own organizations to help others.”
The Pediatric Orthopedic Research Fund at Columbia University, spearheaded by Dr. Michael G. Vitale, has been an integral part of many Pediatric Scoliosis breakthroughs including the use of a magnetic spine lengthening device (called MAGEC) for growing children. All of the proceeds from the event will go towards researching new scoliosis treatments.
For more information about The Artist Alignment: Shine for the Spines, please email [email protected] or call 1-631-365-0144.