Like most young girls, Peri Finkelstein loves ballet.
Although Peri has a rare condition in the muscular dystrophy cluster, the 12-year-old West Hempstead girl takes ballet classes and has always dreamed of sharing the stage with the New York City Ballet's elite dancers.
Well, on Dec. 30 that dream came true, when Peri found herself on stage at Lincoln Center, surrounded by cast members of the Ballet's "Nutcracker" company.
“It was such a wonderful afternoon in Peri’s life,” described Lori, Peri’s mother. “All the ballerinas came to say ‘hello’ and she was presented with a pair of signed ballet shoes, a book on ballet, a program of The Nutcracker and a stuffed animal wearing a tutu. Peri was so thrilled.”
A California-based charity called “When U Dream A Dream” made the experience possible after Peri was nominated by her orthopaedic surgeon, Michael Vitale, MD, chief of Pediatric Spine and Scoliosis Surgery at New York-Presbyterian Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital.
The charity provided tickets and the New York City Ballet gave Peri and her parents a special welcome and magical journey backstage, which ended with Peri finding herself on stage in “The Land of Sweets” with fairies, angels and other Nutcracker dancers.
Diagnosed at 8 months old with a rare disease in the muscular dystrophy cluster, Peri has survived multiple hospitalizations during her young life, including surgery for scoliosis that was impacting her ability to breathe. Her successful series of surgeries allows her to sit straighter, breathe easier, experience less pain. She's not only a bright student and a Girl Scout, but she also attends her own ballet dance class each week.