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Dance Brings Peyton a Second Mom

November 17, 2015 | Rose Bowl

Second momThere are times when the instructor-dancer relationship calls for more than the customary class time instruction. That’s the case for Peyton Richardson and Dianne Jarrell, or Miss Dianne.

The pair have been together for a decade. Dianne was the one who put Peyton in a time-out during a dance class when she was four. (A pre-class donut led to a during-class sugar rush.) Dianne knows Peyton well, so it was no surprise when she noticed something was not right.

More Than an Instructor

Dianne called Peyton in for a meeting and asked what was wrong. Peyton recalls, “I just started crying because she’s like my second mom. I said I don’t know what’s wrong.” Not long after that chat, Miss Dianne called Peyton’s mom to share her concerns.

In early 2015, Peyton’s mom told Dianne they were heading to the doctor, and Dianne asked for a call to know the outcome. Those results, the word leukemia, rang in Dianne’s ears. Her own daughter had been diagnosed with leukemia at age 17. Immediately she lobbied for Peyton to have the same doctor who got her own daughter though the fight. That doctor ended up taking on Peyton’s treatment.

Dancing Through Treatment

Dianne has managed every detail to make sure Peyton could continue dancing as much as possible during treatment, even arranging for a separate ballet barre to allow Peyton to avoid potential germs. So when Peyton was able to dance in this year’s recital, it was a special moment.

Peyton’s mom, Carrie, says, “When she said Peyton’s name on stage, she just paused. She had to contain herself to keep her composure.” Dianne wasn’t the one performing that night, but she understood the journey to get there better than most.

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