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Wisconsin child fights muscular dystrophy with dance

A chance to do therapy outside the hospital
Posted: 11:04 AM, May 07, 2018
Updated: 2018-05-07 18:33:09Z

BROOKFIELD -- A Wisconsin child with muscular dystrophy is using ballet to help her strengthen her muscles. 

Little ballerina Holly Szymzak's muscles are slowly deteriorating. Her parents say they are willing to try anything to help strengthen them. 

Her father, John Szymzak, says she loves to dance.

“It gives her a chance to do her therapy outside of a hospital setting, doctor's office setting. and it's more fun for her because she gets to move around with ballerinas,” Szymak said.

Thanks to a partnership between Milwaukee Ballet and Children's Hospital called Tour de Force, professional dancers, physical therapists, and children with a variety of physical disabilities meet once a week. The kids practice at home on their own, too.

“She'll grab on to the kitchen counter or anything and you'll see her just out of the blue she'll start doing it,”  Szymak said.

There's a class dedicated to kids who require wheelchairs. The instructors choreograph dances using the chairs. The instructors say they are the ones who get the most out of this experience.

Itzel Hernandez with the Milwaukee Ballet says the program has helped her grow as a person and as an artist. 

“When I'm dancing and I sometimes think of giving up, I think of those kids, and I think if they could do it, why couldn't I, you know?” Hernandez said.

Erik Johnson, also with the Milwaukee Ballet, says he loves seeing the progress the kids make.

“Sometimes they have a hard day, sometimes they have an easy day. It's wonderful to see even if it's small incremental improvements. It's really moving...it can be very emotional. I’m always happy when I leave here,” Johnson said.