LAKE WORTH BEACH, Fla. — A South Florida high school student who's overcome the odds is dancing her way to the opportunity of a lifetime. Now the community is stepping up to help her reach her goal.
Her name is Marissie Taylor, and six days a week, you’ll find her at the School of Ballet Arts in Lake Worth Beach.
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"She’s one of the hardest working young women I know," said Gaynelle Gosselin, Taylor's family friend.
"You really have to love it," said Deborah Marquez, Taylor's dance instructor.
Whether it’s ballet, contemporary, or modern, the 16-year-old spends close to 16 hours a week perfecting her craft. But her passion for dance goes beyond love. Her movement is also her therapy.
"Everybody has negative things in their life, and I feel like dance is a little escape," said Taylor. "I come here for three hours and work everything off."
When Marissie was five years old, her father died of cancer. Then four years ago, she lost her beloved grandfather who helped raised her, and that’s when Gosselin, a family friend from church, stepped in.
"I started sponsoring her for dance lessons because I thought it would just be a shame of this child did not have access to that," said Gosselin.
For almost a decade, Gosselin has driven Marissie to every practice, recital, and audition. The result? An opportunity of a lifetime.
This summer, Marissie was invited to attend the Alvin Ailey School of Dance in New York City. Now the community has joined Gosselin to support this young lady. Including scholarships, they've raised around $4,500 for Taylor's tuition, but they still have $1,500 to go.
"Honestly, it would mean a lot if we could fill the gap," said Taylor.
And for Gosselin, an accidental dance mom, even if they don’t reach their goal, she said the pursuit has brought a lifetime of happiness.
"For whatever reason, God put her in my path and I have been able to offer something to somebody," said Gosselin. "It may not make sense but it makes sense."
On top of her buzzing dance career, Marrisse is a straight-A student with plans to become a pediatrician.
The First Presbyterian Church of Boynton Beach has set up a fund to help Taylor afford tuition at the Alvin Ailey School of Dance. The deadline to raise $1,500 is June 12. To donate, call 561-732-3774. The best time to call is between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. from Tuesday through Friday.