Grace Nolan Dances and Dances and Dances


A group of dance students dressed in pink leotards eagerly await entrance into the room where they will tap, flap and dig their tap shoes and walk delicately on the tips of their ballerina-slipper toes. 

It’s 10 a.m. on Saturday at the Madison Area YMCA’s School of Performing Arts. When 6-year-old Grace Nolan arrives, all the girls gather around Gracie, as she is known, while she sits on the floor talking to them and her mom, Kris, ties the ribbons of her shiny, black tap shoes into bows. Gracie, wearing her signature hot pink gloves, and her fellow dancers, clickety-clack onto the hardwood floor to begin warming up with their teacher Miss Ashley. 

Kris signed up Gracie two years ago for her first Y dance class. “I wasn’t sure how long she would last because she is not usually able to participate in non-special education classes. There are so few activities that she is able to do in an integrated session with peers,” she says. 

Sign Up for E-News

Gracie has Down syndrome. She also has found her passion. “Gracie absolutely loves to dance and be on the stage,” says Kris, noting that the Y’s special needs program also provides a volunteer to assist Gracie. 

Kris was impressed with how “the Y not only wanted to do whatever they could to keep Gracie in the program, they wanted to keep her progressing.” School of Performing Arts Director Kim Buccheri says, “When I saw Gracie improving, I recommended that she move to the next level. I wanted her to keep improving her skills,” Miss Kim says.


“Gracie walks into dance class every week with a smile that lights up the room,” says Miss Ashley. “I have seen tremendous growth in her independence and confidence as a dancer. Her passion and perseverance is rare and truly inspiring. Gracie is a pleasure to teach.”


“Gracie did the Y’s dance camp last summer,” says Kris. “I thought it might have been the end of the line for accommodating her but the staff said they wanted to keep her in camp. Without me even asking—they came to me,” she says, showing a face of disbelief. 


“I’m so grateful to the Y,” says Kris, who acknowledges that she and her husband, Brian, wanted to do more. “When we looked at our charitable contributions this year, we knew that the Y would be included. We were just so grateful that the Y made the offer to find a way for Gracie. We knew, then, that the Y really was inclusive. They didn’t just say ‘yes’—they fully embraced Gracie and said, ‘We want her here.’ It far exceeded any expectations,” says a teary-eyed Kris, noting that she has shared her Y experience with the parents of other exceptional children at Gracie’s school. 

I signed up Gracie on a bold, brave, stupid wish with low expectations,” says Kris, raising a tissue to the corner of her eye. “And now we’re hooked! We’re not going anywhere.” When I sat at the computer to make our donation to the Y, I was crying. My 10-year-old son, Jake, came into the room and asked if I was OK. I told him, ‘I’m fine. They’re happy tears!’” she says laughing. 

Why the Y is the Madison Area YMCA’s new column on TAPinto. Why the Y features stories about members who are inspired by the Y, staff members who help make a difference in people’s lives and innovative programs that change our community for A Better Us. Please visit the column to meet your neighbors that are part of the Y family and learn about the programming that just might make a difference in your life! 

The opinions expressed herein are the writer's alone, and do not reflect the opinions of or anyone who works for is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the writer.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News


Upcoming Events

Sat, March 24, 11:00 AM

Home For Good Dog Rescue, Berkeley Heights

Dog Adoption Event



Sun, March 25, 1:00 PM


29 Bedford Ct. Madison Open House

Real Estate


Sun, March 25, 1:00 PM


29 Woodland Road Madison Open House

Real Estate

A Week at the Library of The Chathams Monday, March 19 – Sunday, March 25, 2018


At the latest meeting of the Library of The Chathams Board of Trustees on February 27, Chatham Township Representative Kevin Sullivan administered the oath of office to Thomas E. Browne and Bill Holmes.  Welcome on board (pun intended), Tom and Bill!  Here is the complete list of current members:

Board of Trustees

Andy Hollander, ...

A Week at the Library of The Chathams Monday, March 12 – Sunday, March 18, 2018


By Galina Natenzon

After the storm of the Annual Friends’ Book Sale (no, not the snowstorm), the library is returning to relative peace and quiet.  The sale continues with Bag Sale ($8 for a large bag of books) on Monday, Tuesday, and until most books are sold.

For information about all programs or to sign up, please call the library at 973‑635‑0603 or go ...

Proud of Chatham Township Residents During "Weather Events"

March 13, 2018

To the Editor

As I watch the next “Weather Event” cross my computer screen I am compelled not to roll my eyes in hopelessness to but reflect on the incredible response of helpfulness I have seen throughout the Chatham Township Community over the last several days. 

We are a rural community with dozen of miles of winding road yet we have seen our volunteer first ...


AtlantiCast: Episode 13

On this episode of AtlantiCast, new clinical studies in the fields of cardiology and immunotherapy, national and statewide recognitions for Atlantic Health System medical centers and the inaugural AtlantiCast Collab Challenge!


Chatham Township Committee Advises Residents to Take Precautions During Winter Storm Toby

March 20, 2018

Municipal Offices Will Be Closed on Wednesday; Residents Are Reminded
To Stay Off Snow Covered Roads; No Overnight Street Parking; Contact JCP&L
Immediately If They Lose Power; Clear a Perimeter Around Fire Hydrants;

Follow the Township on Social Media For Updates

CHATHAM TOWNSHIP, NJ – March 20, 2018 – The Chatham Township Committee advised residents to take all necessary ...