Good Samaritans rally for one of their own The Chandler Arizonan

Good Samaritans rally for one of their own

Good Samaritans rally for one of their own
City News

By Kevin Reagan
Arizonan Staff Writer

The Chandler dance community has come together to support one of its teachers after he fell victim to a clever carjacker.

Michael McBain, a long-time professional dancer and Air Force veteran, has been teaching Arizona’s aspiring dancers for years and recently found himself in a troubling predicament.

The 73-year-old was driving near McDowell Road and 51st Avenue on the morning of April 29 when a limping man approached his vehicle.

The man asked McBain for $11 so he could rent out a hotel room for his family. The dance teacher gave the stranger some cash and offered to give him a quick ride.

They drove over to American Inn and the man asked McBain to go inside and check to see if the room rates had changed.

The man claimed he had twisted his ankle and it was too painful for him to walk inside himself.

McBain parked the car and exited it to walk over to the hotel’s lobby. A few moments later, the man sped off in McBain’s vehicle.   

“I was shocked,” McBain recalled. “It was certainly unexpected. I was trying to do the guy a favor.”

Phoenix Police filed a report and McBain had to take a taxi to journey the 25 miles back to his Ahwatukee home.

Once he returned, McBain realized his dance bag containing his tap shoes and music had been inside the car at the moment it was stolen.

McBain teaches weekly classes for Classic Image Dance, located near Kyrene Road and Chandler Boulevard In Chandler, and would have to find a way to replace his materials before his next scheduled class.

He notified Shannon Wilson, the dance studio’s owner, of his unfortunate situation.

“My heart broke for him,” Wilson recalled.

She knew McBain had already been having a difficult time before the carjacking and worried how this latest misfortune would impact him.

McBain additionally drives for Lyft, the ride-sharing company, in his spare time and had been earning up to $700 per week.

But then COVID-19 pandemic hit and Lyft’s customers were suddenly staying home and no longer requesting rides.

During the first week of March, McBain only made about $40 from his Lyft rides. It didn’t make sense to keep driving, he said, since he was spending more money on gasoline than what he was earning.

So McBain has had to forgo that supplemental income for the last two months.

After hearing the news of the car theft, Wilson got to work figuring out how her dance community could help McBain.

He’s brought so much talent and expertise to Classic Image Dance, Wilson noted, so it seemed fitting that the studio should attempt to give him something during a perilous time.

“We just wanted to see what we could do to help given that he didn’t really have any income coming in and was just a little bit down on his luck,” she said.

Wilson started circulating McBain’s story among the studio’s dancers and parents. Within a few days, she had collected more than $5,000 from nearly 80 donors.

Several of McBain’s former students — some of which were taught by him back in the 1970s — contributed to Wilson’s fundraiser.

“I’m grateful that the community came together at this time for someone who has touched so many lives,” Wilson said.

The fundraiser came as a surprise to McBain, who was unaware of what the dance studio had been orchestrating these last couple weeks. 

“I was completely caught off guard,” he said.

McBain, who worked on television shows in Hollywood before relocating to Arizona, said he hasn’t missed a dance lesson since the car theft and plans to continue teaching for the foreseeable future.

“I hope to die and still be teaching,” he joked.

On May 6, McBain was notified his stolen car had been recovered and was sitting in an impound lot. The car had some damage to it and the license plate was missing, McBain noted, so he’s still not able to drive it yet.

The car’s trunk had some stolen stereo equipment found inside, which McBain handed over to authorities. Phoenix Police said the case is still open and no arrests have been made. 

Though the incident brought McBain some temporary misery, he said he’s not trying to let the theft bring down his spirits too much.

“It hasn’t changed my outlook or changed my willingness to help others,” he said. “I still will do that. I’m just going to be more cautious.”

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