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11-Year-Old Cancer Survivor Wants To Be Taken Seriously As Dancer So She Gets Lessons From Idol

by Kelly Glass
Kelly Glass is a writer whose work focuses on the intersections of parenting, health, and pop culture. She lives in an Illinois college town with her educator husband, wildly ambitious sons, dog, and several fish. Her work has appeared in the Washington Post, Romper, BlackGirlNerds.com, HelloGiggles, Oxygen.com, What to Expect, and more.

Abri Bentley is an 11-year old girl who loves to dance. She’s also a cancer survivor. Abri, from Scottsdale, Arizona, began dancing at a young age but was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer called Ewing sarcoma that caused her to lose her leg.

“She wants to be taken seriously as a dancer,” her mom, Nikkole Bentley, told Inside Edition. Nikkole said her daughter had been struggling with learning to dance since her amputation. That was until professional tap dancer Evan Ruggiero saw Abri dancing on Instagram and wanted to meet her. Abri didn’t know that the Ruggiero, the dancer she looked up to, also looked up to her.

The young dancer and cancer survivor said her biggest inspiration was 28-year-old Evan, who also lost his leg to cancer, while he was in college.

Evan invited Abri to train with him for two days.

“Watching her out there with Evan, she was just a regular kid learning to tap like every other kid learns to tap,” said Nikkole.

Ruggiero began dancing when he was 5 years old and went on to dance with acclaimed ensembles in his youth.

Evan was also a young dancer. He started dancing at 5 years old. When he lost his leg in college, he relearned how to tap dance on one leg.

“I never allowed my amputation to stop me in my career as an actor and dancer, and now I’m fortunate enough to travel the world doing what I love,” he said. “Abri has that same fighting spirit, and I’m sure she’s going to do amazing things in her future.”

Watch Evan and Abri’s inspiring dance session in the video below.

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