Have you heard Ava’s incredible story? The team at CBR was so fortunate to get to spend the day with this delightful ballerina, a born dancer who wasn’t always able to dance. You see, Ava has cerebral palsy. Her parents went from not being sure they’d ever see her walk to enrolling her in dance classes. They tried a procedure using her newborn stem cells. It’s experimental and unproven, but with her strength, determination, and all her other therapies, Ava turned into a ballerina herself. We got to see her in action and are so excited to share her story with you: Dance With Ava!
There’s so much more to the amazing story. So, we asked her mom some questions about her journey.
CBR: What made you think Ava was destined to love dancing?
Cathrine: When I was pregnant with her, she was just always dancing in the womb. It wasn’t kicking. It was dancing. But then, Ava was born with cerebral palsy and struggled with movement. [Later, after physical and occupational therapies and the experimental cord blood stem cell infusion, her movements were] more fluid. And today, she’s dancing.
CBR: How does music help Ava?
Cathrine: I always noticed that music seemed to calm her down, so I knew that by the time she turned two, I was going to get her into a dance class, and she just absolutely loves it.
CBR: What was that first dance class like for Ava?
Cathrine: She was just so joyful. So joyful. She’s a natural-born star. Ava stands out. She watches the teacher and works so hard to copy her every movement. I remember Ava being able to do the march, and she would clap for herself, and then look over to make sure I’m paying attention!
CBR: What’s Ava’s general attitude to life?
Cathrine: She’s always been a fighter and so determined. She’s fearless.
CBR: What things do Ava and her sisters do together?
Cathrine: They like to dance together. They like to listen to music. I feel like it’s helped even create a bond with her sister. And her younger sister, Emma, is also interested in dancing, and she copies Ava’s every move. They’re 366 days apart and they’re as close as they can be.
Now you have to see this little prima ballerina in action, right? Even if it’s for the thousandth time.
And, if you’d like to contribute to helping more kids have opportunities like Ava, you can donate to the Newborn Possibilities Fund, which provides financial support, in the form of grants, to non-profit organizations committed to improving the lives of their patient communities at DanceWithAva.com.
Disclaimer: This article is a Q&A with Cathrine Johnson, Ava’s mother and CBR client. Cathrine has received payment from CBR for sharing her family’s story.