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‘Heartfelt’ Performance to Raise Transplant Funds for Former MCC Dancer

Published: Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Updated: Wednesday, March 21, 2012 14:03

Heartfelt MCC

Ryan A. Ruiz

The Mesa Community College Dance Company’s spring formal performance is packed with heart. About 40 dancers will perform March 22 though March 24 in a show dedicated to Mia Welch, a former MCC dancer who has battled congestive heart failure.

“I always said to myself if something like this happened to any of my other dancers I would have felt compelled to do the same thing because we are all a big family and we all try to help each other and pick each others spirits up,” said Tina Rangel, Welch’s former dance teacher and director and producer of the show. “For me, it was a no-brainer.”

The performance, appropriately titled “Heartfelt,” will focus on themes of the heart with dances titled “Eat Your Heart Out,” “Listen to Your Heart” and “A Change of Heart.”

At age 21, Welch knows better than most what it means to have a change of heart. Since her second semester of dance at MCC, Welch has relied on an enlarged heart damaged by a virus and an artificial heart kept in a15-pound backpack.

On Sunday, Welch welcomed a more permanent change — a life-saving heart transplant.

“I thought it be really nice if we could do some sort of show dedicated to her cause but also bring awareness to the importance of organ donation,” Rangel said.

There are 39 people waiting for a heart transplant in Arizona and 3,156 people waiting nationwide, according to the state’s organ procurement organization Donor Network of Arizona.

Welch’s condition put her at the top of the list. Aside from blood type and body size, a patient’s medical urgency, length of time on the waiting list and geography in relation to the donated organ are all taken into consideration.

Welch first showed symptoms of heart failure during Rangel’s class. She dismissed the pain in her abdomen to a cracked rib, but when her breathing and energy were compromised Welch consulted a doctor.

After that, she was in and out of the hospital and for the past four months relied on an artificial heart to do the work her old one couldn’t.

“She’s just someone that had a positive energy and even when she was in the hospital she still had that same positivity,” Rangel said.

While Welch, who will be recovering in the hospital for two weeks, won’t be able to see the performance, her dance company couldn’t be happier with the outcome.

“I’d rather her be in the hospital recovering with her new heart than being here,” Rangel said.

While Welch recovers from surgery, her dance colleagues will have more to celebrate during this week’s performance of “Heartfelt” at Theatre Outback in Mesa.

“It was a good learning experience for them to realize that they can’t take what they have for granted because someone there own age who is a dancer just like they are had that luxury taken away,” Rangel said.

The dancers hope to attract 800 people for all three nights and effectively selling out. Tickets cost between $9 and $13 with all proceeds supporting Welch’s medical costs.

A silent auction will take place during each show to raise additional money and will feature gift certificates donated from businesses like Pita Jungle, Starbucks and Bruegger’s Bagels.

“I want to raise a lot of money for her and raise awareness about the importance of organ donation,” Rangel said. “Also about how fragile life is and that you shouldn’t take anything for granted. I hope people walk away with that message.”


“Heartfelt,” Theatre Outback, 1833 W. Southern Avenue, Mesa, 480.461.7172 ,, Thursday to Saturday, March 22 to 24, 7:30, $9-$13


For more information about life-saving organ and tissue donation and how to register visit

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