Ever since she can remember, Chelsie Hill has loved to dance.
She started taking dance lessons when she was just 3 years old. By 5, she was competing at a national level. She was poised to launch a career in Los Angeles, California, but fate intervened when she was just a teenager.
On the way home from a dance competition, Chelsie was involved in a drunk driving accident that left her paralyzed from the waist down. She was 17 years old, and suddenly her entire life needed to be rearranged; her hopes and ambitions had to be redesigned to suit her new lifestyle.
“Growing up as a dancer, my body was everything to me,” Chelsie explained. “I feel like it’s something that I worked on, I used, it was what I wanted to do with my career. But going from having all function of my entire body and being able to leap, and jump, and kick to having someone who I didn’t meet before tell me that that was no longer possible — the first year I was completely in disbelief. I didn’t know you could go one day from walking to then not.”
Instead of giving up on a career in dance, Chelsie decided then and there to keep following her dream. She came up with a personal motto she still uses to this day: “Dance is dance whether you’re walking or rolling™.”
In 2012, Chelsie moved to L.A. and started taking body dance classes. At first she felt strange being the only person using a wheelchair in her classes, but she was determined to nail the choreography and find a way to do it all on wheels instead of two legs.
As she became more proficient at dancing in her chair, she felt compelled to find other women like her who wanted to keep dancing in spite of their differences.
“I had this idea, this vision, that it’d be still cool to have a bunch of girls in wheelchairs dancing in a ballroom,” she said. “And for me, going into the disability community, there was nothing like that. There was no space for women to go to to feel some sort of normalcy and then also a place for women to go and empower each other and network.”
Chelsie used social media to reach out to other women who use wheelchairs who wanted to dance. She started with just six members. Ten years later, the Rollettes was created: An all-female dance group with a mission “to empower women with disabilities to live boundlessly and shift perspective through dance.”
The Rollettes enables women from all over the world to participate in dance classes, makeup seminars, parties, and more. They also perform for live audiences and frequently upload videos to their social media channels. It’s been 10 years since they formed, and the group just keeps getting more and more popular!
On the personal front, Chelsie recently married her boyfriend, Jay Bloom, who has been by her side for over 7 years. Chelsie spent the months leading up to her wedding day preparing a special surprise: Walking down the aisle using just a walker and a special back and leg brace.
“It was a moment I will forever be grateful for,” she recalled. “I am so lucky to have a man that will love me no matter if I am walking or rolling!”
For more than a decade Chelsie has shown what true grace under pressure looks like.
She is living proof that there’s no limit to what we can accomplish, no matter what our physical differences may be!
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