As a child, Chelsie Hill knew she wanted to be a professional dancer one day. Little did she know that her dream would come true, but not in the way she had pictured in her head.
Hill had danced competitively since she was around seven or eight years old. In high school, Hill danced for her school’s dance team and at 17 years old, she had only three months left in her high school career before she would graduate and move onto the next chapter in her life.
That next chapter, however, was going to be one that challenged her greatly in numerous different ways.
Chelsie was involved in a car accident that left her paralyzed from the waist down. Suddenly, Chelsie’s entire life changed course, as she could no longer move her legs and ultimately could no longer dance the way she used to.
"In the beginning, I thought, well, when someone breaks a bone, they heal," said Chelsie. "It takes a little bit, but they get back to their life. I didn't really understand the extent of what had happened (to me). I knew there was a car accident, and the doctor said, 'You're not going to be able to walk again,' but I didn't know what that meant. I didn't know what the future looked like."
Chelsie would be in the hospital for 51 days, all the while having to think about the consequences of the dire accident that took away her mobility and ability to dance. But, even though Hill was coming to terms with the fact that she would no longer have the use of her legs, one thing that she could not come to terms with was the fact that she would have to give up dancing.
So, she didn’t.
"When it first happened, I was like, 'OK, how am I going to get dressed? How am I going to do this?'" she said. "But I always knew I would dance again."
A mere two years after leaving the hospital, Chelsie began planning and organizing a dance showcase involving herself and other women from the wheelchair community that she was now a part of. The showcase would become the first step towards the creation of an actual wheelchair dance team.
The team had a couple of names, including Walk and Roll and Team Hot Wheels, before finally landing on The Rollettes. Starting in 2012, the new dance team, comprised of six women in wheelchairs, began performing dance routines all over the United States at different festivals and events. They’re even set to perform at the Wings for Life World Run event in Santa Clarita, California; an event that donates 100 percent of all entry fees to the support of spinal cord research.
Chelsie thinks of her dance team as family and hosts practices each week where she teaches new dance routines and trains with the other team members for any upcoming events.
"I have built my whole life these last seven years basically normalizing my situation," Hill said. "Of course I'm still in touch with friends from before the accident, but my favorite part about this team is knowing that I have a group of girls who are my best friends, my sisters. Being able to travel with them and not feeling different."
"Of course there are things I miss being able to feel — leaps and kicks and backflips," Hill said. "But when I'm performing, I still feel the same rush that I used to. And when I go on stage, I don't feel my chair. I don't feel different. I'm just dancing, and that's where my heart is."
How’s that for a healthy dose of inspiration? We couldn’t be happier for Chelsie and her team of dancers.
Please share with friends and loved ones who would appreciate Chelsie’s incredibly inspirational story!