ALLENTOWN, Pa. - July is Dance Appreciation Month, so we caught up with a little girl who says dance is saving her life.
"I've been dancing for about 6 years… I can do whatever I want and I can do whatever moves I like to do," said Courtney Richard.
Ten year-old Courtney comes alive on the dance floor at Sharon Plessl School of Dance in Allentown.
"She's come really far with her dancing ability. This is her first year doing a solo," said Trisha Pongracz, one of her dance teachers.
Courtney has spent countless hours practicing and learning. She said, "It makes me feel free whenever I dance."
Unfortunately, that free feeling is one Courtney doesn't get too often.
When she was three years-old, she was diagnosed with Mitochondrial Metabolic Disorder, affecting her liver.
"She goes into liver failure. She dehydrates easier. It also effects her blood sugar," said Kristine Richard, Courtney's mom. The 10-year-old has already had several surgeries.
Dance has helped Courtney bounce back, both physically and mentally.
She said, "If I'm feeling like really sick or something, it will help me not feel like 'Oh, I'm just like a little girl that's sick.'"
"I don't see my sick daughter when she's out there dancing. I see a kid who's happy and content," said her mom.
The support system of her dance teachers and fellow students is also huge.
Courtney explained, "All my friends make me feel more inspired whenever I dance and encourage me."
That inspiration is a two-way street.
"Courtney inspires everyone, other students, the teachers, parents… She's really upbeat. She's always happy and I don't really ever see her down," said her teacher, Trisha.
Despite Courtney's ongoing health condition, she has no plans of slowing down.
"I have a dream that I would be on Broadway and I'll be a famous dancer," she said.
Allentown, PA 18102