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Teen Ballerina Bounces Back from Devastating Injury

After taking a year to recover from an ankle injury, 16-year-old ballerina Ellie Dotson is grateful that she didn't lose faith and is better than ever. Sponsored by Post Grape-Nuts.

About this sponsorship: In honor of the 60th anniversary of Sir Edmund Hillary’s historic ascent of Mount Everest, Patch and Grape-Nuts are teaming up to highlight those who inspire people around them to climb their own mountains. This story originally ran on Edwardsville-Davidson Patch in March.

Facing the Challenge

At 14, Southern High School student Ellie Dotson -- then a freshman -- knew she wanted to be a professional ballerina.

But after just one month, she had badly injured her ankle. Initially, doctors thought it was just a sprain and told her she would only need four weeks off. But after returning to dance, she was in more pain than ever and was told her injury had gotten even more severe.

Ellie had to quit dance and cheerleading while she recovered and sunk into a deep depression. Then another blow: six weeks later and the boot finally came off, but there was no improvement at all.

"At that moment in the doctor's office, I felt like someone had thrown me to the ground as hard as they possibly could," Ellie says. " I had just missed out on what felt like so much. I felt like I had lost everything...all of these things rushed through my head and I broke down."

Finding the Inspiration

"It had thrown me down to the ground so hard that all I could possibly do was bounce back up like a rubber ball," Ellie says. "I thought to myself, 'This is my best chance I have of ever dancing again! This is good news! There is a possibility I will take a ballet class again some day.'”

Reaching the Goal

Believing that she could fully dance again, Ellie set out to join the prestigious Maryland Youth Ballet, getting a job to pay her tuition as she didn't want her single mother to have to bear the cost.

"In September [2012], I joined Maryland Youth Ballet's professional division as a 15-year-old injured dancer, who paid her own tuition," Ellie says.

Though it took a year, Ellie was able to make a full recovery in March 2013. She has fully healed and she is 1 of 20 dancers selected to perform in Scotland at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

“If I didn't get injured and have surgery, yes, I wouldn't have been miserable for a year,” says Ellie, now 16. “But I also wouldn't have gone to Maryland Youth Ballet, and I wouldn't have had the opportunity to perform in Scotland this summer, and surely I wouldn't appreciate how amazing it feels to be able to dance.

“Every time I point my foot, I'm thankful and I feel so full of love I can't even explain it,” she says. "So I can say with confidence that it was all worth in the end."

Read more: Local Ballerina Asks for Help Achieving Dream

bob e flay April 20, 2013 at 03:55 AM
inspiring good luck
Andrea D April 20, 2013 at 01:44 PM
Ellie, your ability to bounce back, your hard work and dedication to getting back to what you love is commendable and inspiring! Congratulations on being selected to perform in Scotland!
M. Sullivan April 20, 2013 at 10:06 PM
Why is she holding a Ledo Pizza box in her picture? Is this some sort of pizza ballet?
Rita Weber April 21, 2013 at 02:37 AM
Maybe that is where she got a job .... Good Luck Ellie ...
Laura Snow April 23, 2013 at 12:15 PM
Ellie, I am so proud of you. You are an amazing dancer & an inspiration to us all! (Ledo's pizza held a fundraiser for her to help raise the $ needed for training/traveling to Scotland this summer)

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