DAVENPORT, Fla. (WFLA) — A Touch of Drama’s young actors have been rehearsing a light-hearted fairytale, but the founder of the theater program that specializes in working with children with special needs is facing a tragedy.
Heidi Pellino started the drama troupe about a year ago to give her daughter a chance on stage, and it has grown to nearly 100 young actors.
“We don’t call them disabilities. We call them superpowers,” Pellino said. “These kids don’t have anywhere else to go. A lot of these programs have asked them to leave.”
Pellino fought back tears about a message she had to give them as they worked on the play The Ever After.
“I did have to let parents and kids know that this is possibly their last show,” Pellino said. “And we had a lot of break downs. A lot of melt downs.”
Records show just over $6,000 was withdrawn in New York from her on-line based Bluevine business account.
Pellino claims it was a case of fraud and that she did not take out the money.
“It took every penny we had,” Pellino said. “We are left with zero dollars. We have nothing.”
Bluevine spokesperson Kelsey Miller said she was unable to share specifics about a Pellino’s accounts.
“That said, our team has investigated the situation thoroughly and found no indication of fraudulent activity,” Miller wrote in an email. “We have had numerous conversations with this customer in an attempt to resolve this issue.”
Pellino said it was not possible for her to make the withdrawals.
“The purchases were made in a different state,” Pellino said. “It clearly couldn’t have been me. When the purchases were made, I was actually teaching a class.”
Miller said Bluevine accounts are secure.
“We take account security very seriously and we routinely communicate with all of our customers about what it means to maintain a secure account,” Miller said.
But as Pellino prepared for what may be A Touch of Drama’s final curtain call, she claimed her account was not secure enough.
Now, she hopes somehow there will be a happy ending for her theater and its young performers.
“We’ve given them a place where they not only belong but they flourish. They really do. They’re amazing,” Pellino said. “I’m praying for a miracle. I’m praying someone steps forward and says can we help sponsor you.”