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The Villages
Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Villager returns to stage in wheelchair after taking terrible fall last year

Diana Arlt never left her wheelchair Friday but stood tall thanks to her courage, determination and vocal skill. It happened on stage in an emotional comeback appearance in La Hacienda Recreation Center.

Nearly nine months ago, Arlt was severely injured in a fall at home. She shattered her ankle and leg, and is still in rehabilitation and unable to walk. There were other medical problems.

The popular Villages singer had not performed in public until Friday. She took her first singing comeback step in a show called “The Showcase of Talent ‘70s and ‘80s Dance Party.” It featured live music, recorded songs and videos and money raised benefited the Seeds of Hope food charity.

“God is good and I feel wonderful and blessed to be up here singing again,” Arlt said. For nearly a decade, Arlt and her husband Joe, held monthly, local talent showcases to raise money for charity. They said the total is over $100,000 and still growing.

The Arlts have lived in The Villages 20 years, and performed on local stages in shows and with The Villages Pops Chorus.

Diana Arlt made her first public appearance in 9 months Friday after recovering from a debilitating fall at home
Diana Arlt made her first public appearance in 9 months Friday after recovering from a debilitating fall at home.

But Friday’s performance for Arlt seemed almost like a spiritual experience.
“I can’t walk, but I’m so grateful I can still sing,” Arlt said, adding that she may never walk again. “Singing is my passion and singing is my life. It’s more my life now than ever.”
Jan Lavin has been singing with Arlt for much of the past two decades. Lavin opened Friday’s show teaming with Arlt on “I Know Him So Well,” from the musical “Chess.”
“Tonight is so special because Diana is back doing what she loves – singing,” Lavin said. “I’m so thankful to see her on stage singing.”

Jan Lavin has been singing duets with Diana Arlt for nearly a decade and sang with her on Friday
Jan Lavin has been singing duets with Diana Arlt for nearly a decade and sang with her on Friday.


Lavin said Arlt’s vocal talent remains: “She’s such a clear and expressive singer. But more than that, Diana is a dear friend. We’ve been singing duets for 10 years and she’s still an inspiration to me.”

Joe Arlt was on stage running the sound, lights and music for his wife. “It’s been a tough year but it’s great that she’s back singing,” he said.
The audience agreed.
Diana Arlt was greeted with a loud ovation for her first number as she was introduced by Lavin.

“It really is a blessing to have Diana back singing for us,” Lavin told the audience. “Let us all pray for a miracle, that Diana may walk again.”

Whether or not that happens, Diana Arlt’s spirit – like her voice – remains strong.

Tony Violanti writes about music and entertainment for Villages-News.com. He was inducted into The Buffalo Music Hall of Fame as a music journalist.

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