Community supports dancer through fundraiser 0
Submitted photo Family and friends have banded together to host a special community dinner for Shaylee Zeller who has been in hospital over six months.
Well before the April 21 fundraiser for long-time dancer Shaylee Zeller-organized by community members, staff at Livingstone School and Turning Pointe Dance studios-Zeller, 18, sent a message from her hospital bed thanking family and friends for their love and continued support.
Diagnosed with a rare neuropathy of the small intestine in September of 2011, Zeller explained her condition as a nerve causing a problem in her small intestine and thus, her stomach no longer empties.
Zeller has been in the Alberta Children's Hospital since being diagnosed with the condition.
In order to pay for a costly machine and TPN-her now critical IV nutrition-a fundraiser was set up which as organizers stated, quickly grew a life of its own-fuelled by love, caring and support.
"It's so nice to see that all of my friends and community members are behind me and supporting me in any way they can," she said in a phone interview. "It's reassuring to know that so many people care and want to help."
At the point, Zeller said one of her nurses has even offered to come down to the Crowsnest Pass to help administer her IV just so Zeller can be at the fundraiser at the MDM complex in Bellevue.
"I really can't thank them enough," she said about her doctors and nurses. "They've done so much for me and I really don't know how to express how thankful and grateful I am toward them. The doctors have gone above and beyond for me and all of the nurses have become good friends with me."
With her love of dance-having performed at Turning Pointe Dance studios for 10 years and Gotta Dance for years before that-Zeller said it was fantastic to see their support.
"I'm just really looking forward to seeing everyone because I've been in the hospital for so long; it'll be nice to see everyone," she said.
As a Grade 12 student at Livingstone School, Zeller continues to keep up her grades through emailed lessons and a hospital administered tutor twice a week.
While frustrating to know cures are rarely found for the rare neuropathy condition, Zeller knows how she continues her drive of hope and optimism.
"My family plays a big role in that," she said. "They have always supported me no matter what I guess I want to be strong for them because they've done so much for me and have always been there for me."
Having taught Zeller for 10 years, Tara Groves, instructor and owner at Turning Pointe Dance studios, said she is a one-of-a-kind person with a maturity that does not match her age.
"She's just such a kind kid; you just can't help but love her to bits," Groves said, noting everyone at the hospital just thinks she's a strong person.
Groves said community members, friends, fellow dancers and family members have pooled together to create the lasagna supper fundraiser, which will be held during the Festival of the Stars.
When it comes to family love and devotion, she noted that both Zeller's mother and father and sisters rotate so that no one leaves her bedside. In addition, senior dancers, Groves noted, are usually making the trip to Calgary with presents and messages of support.
Though lasagna supper-held during the upcoming April 21 dance festival-tickets are sold out, she said people are still welcome to buy tickets for the two Festival of the Stars shows.
All proceeds from the shows and dinner go towards buying Shaylee Zeller crucial medical equipment. During their April dance festival, one of the shows is to be held at 2 p.m. while the other starts at 6:30 p.m.
According to Shelley Schnack, Zeller's mother, the first question asked by anyone is what they can do to help Shaylee as well as their family.
"Their support, love and caring for Shaylee has been so overwhelming that I don't think there enough words to say thank you for everything that everybody has done for Shaylee," she said in a phone interview.
Schnack said if all goes well in the next couple of weeks, Shaylee Zeller hopes to travel down with a nurse to the fundraiser in Bellevue. Seeing the community support has made her want to be there even more, she said.
"All the love and prayers that have been sent her way mean more to us than anything," she said.
Tickets for the Festival of the Stars shows can be purchased at Turning Pointe Dance studios and staff, instructors, students and others have volunteered their time in order to make the fundraiser as successful as possible.