By Bejay Browne
HUNDREDS of people will take to the streets in Limassol in early November in order to raise awareness and funds for a foundation which aims to improve the psychological health of children.
The Dancing Queen Foundation was set up by family members and friends’ of Dr Yiota Demitriou who was tragically killed by a drunk driver in New York in 2008.The driver of the taxi in which she was a passenger was also killed.
The thirty-year-old was due to receive her doctorate just two weeks after the tragedy and was planning to return to Cyprus to help children facing all aspects of mental health issues. She was posthumously awarded the title of ‘Doctor (Psy.D) by her professors on December 5, 2008.
Yiota’s youngest brother Kyriacos Demitriou, 27, said the name Dancing Queen was his sister’s nickname.
The foundation was set up in January 2009 and is currently helping around 40 children facing different mental health challenges, mostly in Limassol. Demitriou is vice-president of the foundation. His older brother, Andreas, is president.
Demitriou said the foundation works mostly with children from low income families. Most range in age from 4-14 years old, although there is no age limit. They are facing a raft of difficulties. Some need speech therapists or have other learning difficulties, others are suffering from depression.
From 2009 until September 2013, the foundation raised 178,390 euros to help such children.
“We are referred some cases from private therapists and in some cases the families apply,” Demitriou said. “Three specialists along with representatives from the foundation board review the applications and if they meet with specific criteria we will try our best to help.”
The upcoming fundraising walk is called ‘I’d rather walk than drink and drive’ and will take place at 8.30am on November 3 along the coastal walkway in Limassol, starting out from Dolce Club and finishing at the end of Molos.
“The walk has such a great atmosphere and there are usually other families who have lost someone in a similar way to us taking part,” Demitriou said. “There are so many tragedies here in Cyprus and this shouldn’t happen to any other family. It’s easy to go out and have a couple of drinks and get behind the wheel of a car without thinking but these deaths could so easily be avoided.”
The walk will raise awareness of the dangers of drink driving while raising money for the foundation. Last year 620 people took part, which is the biggest event so far, and raised around €35,000. Demitriou says organisers are hoping for even more people to participate this year.
“My sister wasn’t just a sibling; she was my closest confidant and the sort of person who left an impact even if you only met her once,” he said. “She was cheated out of doing what she loved, helping children, and so we (her family and friends) are doing what we can. Sometimes it’s very difficult for us, her life was cut short in such a tragic way but we are trying to do something positive in her memory.”
Requests for a sponsorship form should be sent to [email protected].
Telephone 25 818140. Website: dancingqueenfoundation.com or https://www.facebook.com/dancingqueenfoundation