The story of Cheryl Angelelli, a 2-time Paralympian, and former national swimming champion is definitely one of the most inspiring ones out there. The brave woman was involved in a terrible accident over three decades ago, after which she became paralyzed from the waist down.
However, she has never let her medical condition prevent her from accomplishing her dreams.
The woman, who is now 51 years old, has always had a passion for swimming. Tragically, she suffered a severe spinal cord injury and broke her neck in a swimming pool accident. She fell off a starting block and hit the bottom of the pool with her head. As a result, her life was never the same. Cheryl is paralyzed from the chest down for the rest of her life.
Cheryl was bound to her wheelchair, but she didn’t let that stop her to do what she loves most: swimming. She won the world championship in 2006 in Durban and competed twice at the Paralympic games. Cheryl went home with a duo of Bronze medals at the Athens 2004 games, and she even stepped up her game four years later in Beijing with two Silver medals for 50m and 100m women’s freestyle swimming.
However, the woman felt like she accomplished everything there was to accomplish in swimming, so she decided to retire back in 2013.
Almost immediately afterward, the woman made the switch to wheelchair ballroom dancing, and she’s a natural.
Even though she can’t use her feet because of her condition, the way she moves is absolutely magnificent. In fact, she couldn’t say it any better herself:
“I may not dance with my feet,” Cheryl said to Inside Edition. “I dance with my heart.”
The woman never wanted her accident as a teen to define the rest of her life and didn’t want it to change who she was.
“The day I had my accident, my life changed, but it didn’t change me,” she said.
It didn’t take long before Cheryl got passionate about wheelchair ballroom dancing, and when she recently saw a performance in person, she was absolutely inspired and motivated to dance as well.
“It was absolutely beautiful and I knew right then and there it was something I wanted to try,” Cheryl recalls.
Even though the woman didn’t really have a lot of time to practice, her talent is absolutely amazing.
In fact, she is now ranked as the 7th best wheelchair ballroom dancer in the entire world.
Over the years, Cheryl has competed in numerous competitions and events. The woman regularly uploads videos of her performances on her own YouTube channel, and even though she doesn’t have tons of views, everybody in the comments section agrees: these dances are absolutely beautiful and elegant.
News outlet Inside Edition was able to capture footage of a recent competition of the woman, who was performing with her dance partner Tamerlan Gadirov. They absolutely rocked it, and the final few seconds were the most beautiful. The crowd loved it, and Cheryl can’t help but scream of excitement when someone picks her up.
“I love hearing the crowd when I go up in the air,” she said.
Now, Cheryl hopes that she can inspire people with disabilities to pursue their passions – whether it’s swimming, dancing or something else entirely.
“To know I touched so many lives through dance, it made me really, really happy that I can inspire people in that way,” the talented woman concluded.
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