Nicky was six years old when he was diagnosed with Vitiligo. Vitiligo is when your cells no longer produce pigment, or they die or attack each other, which is an autoimmune disorder. There is no cure-medicine to help.
It started as a small white spot on his knee. The Dr's said it could just stay in that spot or spread. They couldn't tell us anything more than the pigment-producing cells die or stop functioning. Little did we know it spread to 80 per cent of his body. I was devasted; he was already in speech therapy and having a hard time learning to read. We were also dealing with his baby sister having severe medical issues herself. A year prior, she had a heart condition brought on by a virus, which quickly led to a cardiac arrest and permanent brain damage.
After the first spot on the knee, it started on his hands, elbows, sides, back, legs, and finally his face and neck. The Vitiligo started in his hair when he became older. His dermatologist said it was the most he has treated. As of today, his almost has no pigment left on his legs and feet. He was so sad to look so different from other kids. That's when the self-esteem issues and social anxiety kicked in. He hated the way he looked.
I never got used to the stares and the pointing at him, more for the mere fact of the look on his face and the tears. It was so very hard to see this sweet boy go to a park and try to play with other kids who would say mean things call him names and laugh. The worst was when an older boy spat on Nick and called him a freak. After that, anytime we went to a fun place, whether it be a park, go-karts, even trying to get him to play sports, he would cry all the way there. He just got used to being by himself or being with his sister.
Nicky loved skateboarding. He was pretty good at it, competing and getting local sponsors. He would go to the dance studio to wait for his sister to get done. He was very impatient as he was a little bit hyper and didn't sit still. I loved my time sitting to read, but Nicky kept asking when it was time to go.
I noticed a hip-hop class at the same time in Studio B at Summerlin Dance Academy. I asked him to try. The next week, the social anxiety kicked in, and he got very nervous about going to the class, he cried on the way. He went in and stood in the corner in the back of the room. But he did go back the following week.
He was 13 that spring when he started that class. He joined our company, Innovation Dance Company's, hip hop team. Later that year during a Competition, his friend who danced, was in our all-boys Jazz number. Once he saw them on stage, He knew that was where he wanted to be. We talked to our director and Nicky had to take Ballet and Jazz over the summer. Walking into his first ballet class, was a summer ballet Intensive. He was so scared. He was older and had no ballet training.
But he fell in love with ballet. He loved his jazz classes and moving on to the fall, picking up lyrical and contemporary. His life changed because of dance. He found his passion. He found his safe place.