Christina Falcone sat in a wheelchair while removing the leg rests attached to it.
In the background, Michael Jackson’s “Don’t Stop ’Til You Get Enough” played in the lobby at Kenosha Estates, where Falcone is staying after surgery to remove a mass on her spine two years ago left her paralyzed from the waist down.
The skilled nursing and rehabilitation facility was holding its annual “Senior Prom” on Sunday, and Falcone was moving and grooving to the disco beat.
“We have a ball,” she said. “See? I can do a lot more with this off,” as she adjusted herself to pick up a few items on the floor.
Falcone was one of more than a dozen residents at Kenosha Estates who attended the annual prom, which kicks off the facility’s activities for National Skilled Care Nursing Week, celebrating skilled nursing centers, their residents and staff. This year’s theme is “Live Soulfully,” according to the American Health Care Association.
Kenosha Estates, 1703 60th St., which provides short-term rehabilitation care and long-term treatment, has hosted the event on the second Sunday of May, usually timed with Mother’s Day, for the last five years.
Falcone, 49, of Kenosha, was beaming as the music played. Once told by doctors that she would never walk again, she was excited to share good news.
“I’m starting to move my legs. They told me I’d never walk, and I’m starting to walk,” she said, explaining that she can use a walker while taking a few steps. She happily recounted how she spent time with her son for Mother’s Day and pointed to the roses and carnations he gave her that were atop a nearby table.
“I’ve been working my butt off to walk,” she said. “It’s been a rough go, but I don’t give up. I work harder and harder and harder.”
She said she enjoys being at Kenosha Estates because of the residents, the staff and the activities.
“I love being here,” she said.
The facility’s administrator, Andrew Sowles, who was acting as the event’s DJ, said the prom is just one of the events planned for this week. Others include cookouts and a visit from Racine Zoo animals.
“I think they may have a monkey and a goat, maybe a bird on Wednesday,” he said. “No elephants.” This is the first time the zoo is coming to them, he added.
“I’m looking forward to it. We have things going on every day of the week,” he said.
For residents like Ruth St. Martin, 83, the prom is a good time to engage with other residents and staff.
“This is my third one. It’s a way for everybody to see everybody else instead of just walking through the halls,” she said, as Earth, Wind and Fire’s “September” played. “It gives them something uplifting, listening to the music and seeing them doing things.”
For resident J.C. Mosley, 48, the prom and the music are something he looks forward to each year.
“I like it. It’s something different that we do. I like it,” he said in between bites of fruit salad.
Edith Fiore, 64, enjoyed a dance with the center’s new activities director Evan Nemecek, who coordinated a decidedly Hawaiian theme for Sunday’s event.
“I really enjoy this and the events they put on,” she said.
Nemecek also enjoyed himself.
“It’s a fun theme, and they always like prom time,” he said of the residents. “I think we’re going to keep doing it because they enjoy it.”