It seems unimaginable – a 15-year-old girl with a promising future as a dancer, struck by illness, and then a debilitating stroke.
Now family, friends and dance colleagues are rallying around the Sullivan Secondary student, who dreamed of becoming a professional ballet dancer but is now fighting to recover, hoping to walk and dance again.
Until a health crisis intervened this spring, Emma Salisbury was well on her way to realizing her dreams.
A dedicated and hard-working student of ballet at Panorama School of Dance, Salisbury had graced the stage as Clara in The Nutcracker with the Royal City Youth Ballet, and starred as Elsa in the school’s production of Frozen.
Her talent had taken her to Toronto to study, and she was set to attend Arts Umbrella this year, according to family friend Kelly Ewing, who has set up an online fundraising account for the girl.
A health crisis struck out of nowhere the end of the past school year, when she became unexpectedly and gravely ill, developing kidney failure.
Salisbury was diagnosed with lupus, and began chemotherapy – a course of treatment it was hoped would suppress the autoimmune disease.
She suffered a stroke following her first treatment, suffering paralysis on her left side, leaving her unable to walk, or swallow on her own.
She spent the summer in ICU at B.C. Children’s Hospital – her parents Caitlin and Derek at her side.
“They have been tirelessly advocating for Emma and researching to get Emma the best rehab possible in a system that is strapped,” writes Ewing.
The teen is now undergoing outpatient rehab therapy using a state-of-the-art technology called Myndtec.
Treatments cost more than $4,000 and aren’t covered by the Medical Services Plan.
The Emma Salisbury: Dance Again campaign on GoFundMe.com has so far raised more than $21,700 – more than half way to the goal.
Clare Materi, a mom of a long-time dancer at Panorama School of Dance, Rowan, is holding a fundraiser at her fitness studio, Live2Play in Cloverdale this Sunday (Nov. 15).
Materi says Salisbury – who worked as a student teacher at her daughter’s dance school, helping younger students hone their skills – is showing a great deal of courage and determination in facing the biggest challenge of her life.
Materi is running four, 30-minute jumping sessions (low-impact, choreographed routines done on personal sized trampolines to music).
The first session starts at 11 a.m. and the last is at 12:30 p.m. Cost is $10.
Live2Play is located at 200 5858 176 Street. Call 778-838-8349 to reserve a spot.