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Sunday, June 04, 2023

After a divisive visit from Richard Spencer, an Gainesville resident is hoping to inspire kindness through dance.

On Nov. 12, Gainesville will have its first Dance for Kindness on Flavet Field at 10 a.m. Free Hess, a 42-year-old pediatric emergency room physician in Ocala, is organizing the local portion of the worldwide event to celebrate World Kindness Day, which is Nov 13. The event will consist of a choreographed freeze mob and flash mob dance, Hess said. Last year 50 countries and over 120 cities participated in Dance for Kindness.

Hess says her goal is to inspire people to live a life of kindness and tolerance.

“We just want to have people in our community come together, have a good time, knowing that everyone is there for the same reason and being kind to everyone,” she said.

The songs are kept secret until the day of, Hess said. When participants register they are emailed a link and password to the dance tutorial. Hess has also offered to visit groups and schools who would like to rehearse the dance before the event.

Though Hess was planning the event before Spencer, a white nationalist, spoke on campus Oct. 19, his visit gave her the final push to finish the event.

“It made me want to do it all the more and made me want to counteract everything,” she said.

Hess said due to the late start with planning, the normal $10 registration fee has been waived for all participants. The fee would have been donated to Life Vest Inside, the nonprofit that organizes the dance and promotes global kindness. Instead Hess will collect any donations people are willing to give, she said.

Hess said the event’s goal is to raise awareness that people should be kind to each other.

“We want to get people to realize maybe it shouldn’t be just an event to get you to think this way – maybe we should think like this all the time.”  

Editor's note: This article has been corrected to reflect that Hess is a Gainesville resident.

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