We have recently partnered up with Leanne to support one of her charity events, and her story captivated us so much we decided it needs sharing! Her strength, talent and dedication are what shape her beauty!
Hey, I’m Leanne, 27 from Newcastle upon Tyne, I’ve have lived here all my life and I love being surrounded by family and friends. I believe in supporting, inspiring and helping others to grow to be the very best version of themselves, let’s find out what it was that inspired me to do this?
Firstly a massive thank you to my parents for sending me to ballet class at only 3 years old, learning to dance before I could even walk! This is when I began to fall in love with art of dance, allowing movement to tell a story of a 1000 words. Each time I went to class I learned a little bit more about me and my passion for dance grew. I expanded my experiences to include tap, modern and jazz and pushed my boundaries performing on stage with my local dance school. I had a drive to share my passion with others, allowing them to immerse themselves into a world of peace, even if it was only for a short while. Dance developed and supported me physically and emotionally, I learnt that motivation, willingness and determination to carry on would help me achieve my goals and it was not long before I qualified as a student teacher in modern dance where many future opportunities awaited.
However in the blink of an eye my life stopped when the news arrived that my partner of 9 years had died. The harsh reality hit, I felt alone in a world full of people, the best half of me disappeared, in a split second it all became a memory. My life would never be how I had imagined it. He had a zest for life that inspired every person he met, if it was not for his fun, go-out there and do it attitude I don’t think for a second I would be who I am today. I was extremely lucky to have shared so many years with such an amazing person who helped shape me into who I am today. I stand today because of him and all that he taught me about life. I know receiving this news at only 23 years could or would have devastated anyone’s life. I had the choice to shut down or to power up…I chose to POWER UP! To help me process the loss I chose to share my story for others to see, to support those around me who may be experiencing a similar situation. If you wish to find out a little more about my story I also have a personal blog; https://lcav17.wordpress.com/.
It was at this point I stopped waiting for the what, if, when, how and started doing. I took the go-out there and get it attitude and began to plan, setting goals and trying to regain a sense of myself and what life was going to be. I turned to my love of dance to support me through. I really threw myself into dance completing my Exercise to Music, Zumba and Pound fitness teaching qualification within 1 and half years. Crazy right? Many people thought the same, “You’re doing too much” and “slow down” were comments I often heard. However for me these small achievements began to rebuild my sense of self and confidence to continue. Next came the opportunity to set up my own community fitness classes, but not as a means of an extra income, but as a way to spread the love of dance and fitness to help others achieve their goals too. Before long I was taking part in events and even organising Zumba fitness events myself to raise money in memory of my partner and more recently to help others close to me. In just under 4 years I have raised approximately £5000 for charities or individuals who never ask for support. When I take a second to reflect sometimes I even surprise myself!
On my journey I found the Latin dance scene, after a year of social dancing I was entering a local dance competition for fun, winning the title of BachataStars Newcastle. An exciting opportunity arose, where I began teaching local Bachata classes and organising event workshops. This soon led to bigger things. I was approached by a UK Bachata Artist who enlisted me to captain the very first local Bachata ladies styling team – Venenitas Newcastle! I continued to aspire to create lasting impressions on those whom I crossed paths with. It was at my local dance school where I met many talented young ladies one of whom I would like to introduce; Lauren Matthewson. Lauren and I used to dance together at our local dance school, supporting each other and enjoying performing on stage. At the age of 19 years old Lauren was diagnosed with Ehlers Danlos Syndrome (EDS) which meant that she was no longer able to continue dancing. EDS is a rare genetic disorder that causes the body’s collagen (which is basically the glue to the body) to become extremely weak and fragile. There are different types of EDS, which all present in different ways – from just having stretchy skin/hyper-mobile joints to being severely disabled. EDS is a multi-systemic condition meaning it also affects some parts of Lauren’s internal organs causing them to function inadequately. There is no cure for EDS and very few doctors have heard of the condition, making it difficult for suffers to be diagnosed. Lauren was lucky enough to be paired with an assistance dog ‘Fliss’ to support her in everyday living, however she was reliant on friends and family to exercise Fliss. In 2017 I organised a successful Zumba fitness surprise event raising £1000 which went towards purchasing an electronic wheelchair and accessories for Lauren to walk Fliss independently. However Lauren unfortunately has to travel to and from London for treatment. She is no longer able to tolerate recycled Oxygen on planes and at present is renting an Oxygen Concentrator to support her breathing during flight. Lauren also requires daily nebuliser treatments and an Oxygen Concentrator would increase effectiveness. In late 2018 I was approached by a local gentleman who invited me to teach at Salsa for Charity event, I was so excited, ideas began to flood my mind. I immediately thought of running a raffle, contacting companies to donate to such a fantastic cause. In addition I enlisted the support of my Venenitas Bachata ladies styling team to wow the audience with their performance. It didn’t stop there, as the days went on I found myself more and more determined to raise the funds necessary for Lauren to purchase her own Oxygen Concentrator. On the 9 th of November with the support of the local dance community, friends and family we raised a staggering £2075.50!!
The tragedies we face in life can own us or we can own the situation to make life changing stories. One quote that resonates with me is; “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Everyone is going through something we know nothing about, be kind, respect and share with each other, as we all need a helping hand at times.