Fifth annual Push Beyond showcase celebrates Sweet Sally Sunshine

BAY RIDGE — Sally Kabel, affectionately known as Sweet Sally Sunshine, was a beacon of light in Bay Ridge during her short lifetime, and her memory lives on in the hearts of a community that loved her.

Sally died on Sept. 19, 2018, following a nearly lifelong battle with leukemia and complications of the disease. Her death not only devastated her heartbroken family but an entire community that had rallied behind her in her brave battle with cancer.

Sally’s mother and father, Nicole and Matt Kabel, have continued to keep their daughter’s memory alive by helping to raise awareness of pediatric cancer.

Sally loved to dance and attended classes at Beyond Dance, 8717 Third Ave., which on Friday, Jan. 31 and Saturday, Feb. 1, will host Push Beyond, its fifth annual student showcase, with all donations and raffle proceeds going to the Arms Wide Open Childhood Cancer Foundation in Sally’s memory.

As part of the event, there will be adults-only cocktail hours at 7:15 p.m. on both days, with shows at 8:30 p.m. On Saturday afternoon, families and friends are welcome for hors d’oeuvres at 12:30 p.m. and a show at 1:30 p.m. Admission is free.

“In 2015, we began the Push Beyond events which include fundraisers and community events, and we’ve been holding the showcases which involve students to help tie our community together,” Jennifer Abad, founder and artistic director at Beyond Dance, told this paper. “Sally’s brother Thomas takes classes at Beyond Dance just as Sally took classes here. She will always be a part of this studio,” Abad added.

This is not the first time tribute has been paid to Sally. Last spring, fifth through eighth grade students from Lutheran Elementary School at 440 Ovington Ave. in Bay Ridge banded together to create three mural panels depicting things that meant something to Sally, such as Mickey and Minnie Mouse, pizza and a yellow butterfly. They presented the murals to the community on a beautiful sunny Thursday in June.

And in September 2019, the Coney Island Parachute Jump was lit gold for Childhood Cancer Awareness Month in Sally’s memory. Also in September, the Ty Louis Campbell Foundation, a nonprofit organization that funds childhood cancer research, dedicated its annual triathlon run to Sally.

Matt Kabel is especially looking forward to this year’s Push Beyond event. “Every year, we enjoy seeing the young performers at Beyond Dance put on their student showcase,” Kabel told this paper.

“Anybody who knew Sally knows she loved to dance and how much she enjoyed spending her Saturday mornings dancing at the school. The entire Beyond Dance community, from teachers to students, embraced both Sally and our family and continue to do so today. It means so much to us that the school keeps our little girl’s memory and love of dance alive, and uses the event to raise funds and awareness for childhood cancer research,” Kabel added.

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