Curesity Voorhees looked over at her new born baby and nearly screamed. It was 4 o’clock in the morning and the young mother was lying exhausted and delirious in her hospital bed. Perhaps she was not seeing clearly, but in the haze of darkness, medication and worry, she could have sworn that her beautiful baby girl only had one leg.
“Her legs were so twisted around each other it almost looked like she had one leg,” the mother of two says as she recalls that heart stopping moment. “When you took her legs apart they just came right back together.”
Not long after, a specialist diagnosed little Cameron with extreme femoral anteversion. The scary name meant that Cami’s legs were so severely turned in, she could barely walk. If she tried to take a step, she would trip, falling over her own stubborn feet. By the time this bundle of energy was a toddler, her legs were black and blue from bruises and she developed a new nick-name, Cam-Bam.
“She would just fall so hard”, explains her mother. “I felt bad. Her gait was so awkward, people would turn and look. Even in the summer time I put her in pants and in jeans so her legs wouldn’t bleed when she fell.”
Cami may have been young, but the teasing left an impression. “I can remember sometimes little kids in my Pre-K class saying mean things about me and how my feet were,” reveals Cameron, now 9 years old. “I remember feeling really sad.”
Desperate, Curesity turned to doctors. They told the worried mother that eventually, they might have to break Cami’s hips to reset her legs. In the meantime, she had a choice. Her daughter could wear heavy leg braces to force he body into place…. or she could dance.
“I do remember the feeling I wanted to start dancing,” beams the 4rd grader. “I enjoyed the feeling of it, just how it made me feel. I was happy when I started dance.”
Cami began taking ballet lessons at the age of two in her home town of Elmira, New York. Soon, she saw kids emerge from other classrooms wearing tap shoes and she caught a glimpse of a contemporary class. It became apparent to her mother, a 3rd grade public school teacher, that there was no holding this child back.
“By the time she was five, we were blown away at what she could do. Her teacher told us she’s going to be a star and said just let me get my hands on her!”
Just a little over a year later, at the ripe age of 6, Cami won Velocity’s Mini MVA Title. One of the tiniest minis in the room, was now touring the country and not only winning competitions, but friends as well.
“She’s funny. There is a spark about her. She makes you laugh,” marvels her mother. “I think she’s so friendly she would literally jump off the stage and help kids if they were struggling with the choreography.”
Still, it came as a surprise, when Cami’s Instagram account began to explode. What stated with a few adorable posts, singing along with her idol, Michael Jackson, has turned into a corporate winning phenomenon. Cameron Voorhees has more than 60 thousand followers. Companies like Under Armor and Nike, artists like Meghan Trainor and choreographers such as Molly Long and even the infamous, Abby Lee Miller, have taken notice. Cameron now has an agent to field the multiple offers that keep pouring in.
“When we go places in the dance world the kids will scream, ‘Oh my god! That’s her!
they will line up to get pictures with her,” Curesity shares in disbelief. “She would rather dance than act. She thinks of acting as a hobby. She just got offered a job on a major network and turned it down because it would interfere with dance.”
These days, there is not much time to do anything but dance. Cami’s training differs from the typical competitive dancer’s. Monday through Friday, she studies solely ballet in her home studio, Triple Talent Academy. Then, on Sunday’s, the family drives 10 hours to Pittsburgh and back to learn her competition pieces and rehearse with her team at Evolve Dance Complex. There is little time for a “normal” life, but this bubbly performer does not feel she is missing out.
“Never. I feel like dance is my all day playdate. I would much rather dance than have a friend over!”
“Sometimes I sit back and say, ‘How did i create her?'” wonders her mom. “She wakes up at 5AM every morning and stretches. I’m still sleeping. It sounds like a heard of elephants while she tries to get a full back. It’s crazy!” adds Curesity. “It’s amazing being her mom to watch her do her thing and live her dream. She inspires me.”
The hard work culminated this summer in a moment that did feel dreamlike. While other girls at the highly competitive, Dance Awards, in Orlando, were dutifully applying make-up and putting on their solo costumes, Cami’s hair was a hot mess, and her outfit was miles a way at a hotel. She and her mother did not believe in a million years that Cami would need to dance as one of the top four finalists.
“I really didn’t think I would make top 20. It was crazy, and I was not prepared ,and all I was thinking was that I could watch and be happy for my friends. As soon as I saw my name pop up on that screen, I cried!” gushes Cami, still in disbelief.
A mad dash by Grandma across town to retrieve the costume followed and just in time, Cami performed her solo. The judges awarded her 4th place nationally and she still has two more years in the mini room!
“I don’t have words!” beams her mom. “She makes me so happy, everything about her. She has that “It”. She just makes everyone smile. She is so humble and so full life and hard working. I can’t believe she’s mine.”
Now, Cami proudly shares a photo in which she is grinning ear to ear and holding a plaque bigger than she is. It is a stark contrast to the images of her physical disability recorded in her baby album.
“Looking back at the pictures now, it is crazy to see what dance can do!” she muses, as the dimpled smile grows even wider.
She makes us so proud. Grampa Dan