The stage feels so much bigger up close, but Natalie is more than ready. She has always handled life’s challenges with the grace of a ballerina. And this is her big break.
We’re sharing Natalie’s story in honor of Cystic Fibrosis Awareness Month. She is one of more than 600 wish kids with cystic fibrosis who received a wish this past year. If you, your child or your patient has cystic fibrosis, they may be eligible for a wish. Visit this page to fill out the referral form.
The Rise of a Star
Every performer’s path to fame is unique, and no one understands that better than Natalie and her family. At birth, a blood test revealed that she had cystic fibrosis. Unfamiliar with the diagnosis, her parents did not know what was in store for their daughter, but they did know they would support her any way they could.
Because of the condition, Natalie has had to work extra hard for everything she has achieved. Kids with cystic fibrosis have to take regular medication and practice breathing therapy every day so that they can feel better. But these daily realities aren’t going to stop her from doing what she loves.
Natalie has many interests in life, but one trumps them all: dancing. She brings joy to her whole family with her performances at home. That is why she was beyond excited when she learned her wish would come true. Natalie was going to be a real ballerina.
The Debut Performance
Natalie arrives at the Orpheum Theatre in a shiny black limousine – a fitting entrance for a star. Three ballerinas stand waiting for her on the sidewalk. They are nervous, but eager for the day ahead. Granting Natalie’s wish is sure to brighten her day and give her a boost as she continues treatments, and they look forward to being a part of a memory that she will cherish for her life.
As Natalie exits, the ballerinas greet her with warm smiles, her name in bright lights just above their heads. Just a few sweet moments later, the group whisks Natalie away for photographs. She has a show to get to!
Once on stage, Natalie blends in beautifully with the other ballerinas. Her hair is pulled back in a tightly braided bun, and her lilac tutu gives the impression that she has done this before. Every move is well-rehearsed. She twirls and leaps with ease, captivating her audience with her passion and poise.
Natalie’s fellow dancers share this enthusiasm. “… we all love to dance so much, so to be able to give back and help her dream come true – to be able to dance on a stage – was just so fulfilling for us.”
There are some sillier moments too. At the end of her routine, her family and friends join her onstage for an impromptu dance session. Natalie shows off her moves and does the splits. Then she holds hands with all her loved ones to take a bow.
Her mother expresses gratitude for all the people who helped make her daughter’s wish possible. “This experience is something Natalie and us will remember forever.”
Photos: Erin Shimazu Photography