Family Spotlight: Tori Edsel Learns a New Dance

“Whenever one door closes, I hope one more opens. Promise me that you’ll give faith a fighting chance. And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance, I hope you dance.”  I Hope You Dance, 2000

Tori Edsel, 15, was born dancing. Her lessons began at 2 years old. However, her dancing career was abruptly put on hold on January 19 when she suffered an AVM rupture and aneurysm, which was diagnosed as a right-side stroke, aphasia and right-side peripheral blindness.

“Tori is a gifted dancer, who is well known in the dance world because of her incredible talent,” says Mike Edsel, her dad. Now, that dance community is rallying to help her recover.

Her recovery brought her to our Ronald McDonald House near Scottish Rite on February 19. As Tori began an intense rehabilitation program to help her regain the ability to walk and talk, her family would spend the next six months at our House.

Tori competed and won countless dance competitions with ease, Mike says. At the age of 5, she competed solo in a dance competition, winning her division and age group, as well as being named Highest Scoring Act in the entire competition.

“We attribute our ability to stay positive to several things, the most important being Faith,” Mike says. “The other factors in remaining positive are close family and friends. You never realize just what they mean to you until you really need someone.”

Tori’s parents says the Atlanta Ronald McDonald House has been a lifesaver and has contributed to her overall improvement.

“There is no way that we could have been able to be with her every day during her journey to recovery without the House,” Mike says. “It has allowed us to give her the support that she needs, both mentally and physically. It has allowed us to be here as a family.”

“Our family remaining together has allowed her to maintain a positive focus, instead of dwelling on what has happened to her,” says Tori’s mom, Cindy. “The opportunities to attend events, such as the Atlanta Braves, Zoo Atlanta and the Atlanta Dream are also a big part of her recovery. They allow Tori to feel normal and enjoy things that people do every day.”

After 163 days, Tori and her family returned home on August 30. Her dream is to one day dance again. With continued therapy and the support of her family and friends, Tori will be encouraged to pursue her passion and inspire others to defy the odds.

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