“I dreamed of playing this part since I was eight or nine,” said Grace Davis, clutching a wooden nutcracker.
As it turns out, dreams do come true. Grace will play Clara in the Colorado Ballet Society’s “A Colorado Nutcracker” this weekend at the Pikes Peak Center in Colorado Springs.
“She’s a very sweet character, but she’s brave in her own way,” Grace explained.
“She receives this really magical gift of the Nutcracker on Christmas Eve and from there, magical things begin to unfold for her.”
While magical things are unfolding for Grace right now, it wasn’t always this way. Eight years ago, Grace had just started kindergarten, but she was constantly sick and lethargic.
Countless doctors appointments turned up empty and doctors were puzzled. Finally, one night in the emergency room, her parents, Chad and Jenn Davis, had an answer, but it was the answer they feared.
Their little girl was diagnosed with Pre-B Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, impacting 70 percent of her blood.
“I don’t think I really knew what it meant at the time, but there was a lot there was a lot of chemotherapy, a lot of painful treatments,” said Grace.
The prognosis wasn’t good, but here’s the thing about Grace: “She’s a tremendous fighter,” said Chad, his eyes welling up with tears.
And fight she did.
Nights Grace should have spent cozied up in the living room, she spent in the hospital.
“We ended up going on Christmas Eve. It was really difficult because we were used to spending that time with our family,” remembered Grace.
“I just tried to focus on getting through it and focusing on the road ahead and dreaming about things I wanted to do.”
About three years later, the Davis family got the news they’d prayed for every single day.
There was no trace of cancer.
Soon thereafter, Grace got busy achieving those dreams, one of which was taking dance classes, but because cancer treatments limited her flexibility and her strength, Grace had to work that much harder.
She tried to find other ballerinas who survived pediatric cancer as a source of inspiration but could not.
Now, she hopes to be that inspiration for someone else.
“Wherever you are, whatever part of the journey, you’re going through, the biggest thing I can say is just hold on and things will get better.”
They certainly have for Grace.
Grace was chosen as the Colorado Ballet Society’s “dancer for a day,” where a child battling a life-threatening illness gets to experience the joy of being part of The Nutcracker cast.
But, Grace was already a dancer and had already earned the part of “Clara.” Still, she wanted to do something big with her role.
So, she organized a toy drive at the studio for new donated gifts to be given to children receiving medical treatment at Urgent Care/Briargate Office and Inpatient Unit and the CCBD/Infusion Unit at Briargate facilities over the holidays.
“Life is about inspiring, blessing, and uplifting others,” she smiled.
You can see Grace dance in “A Colorado Nutcracker” at the Pikes Peak Center on Saturday at 7 p.m. and Sunday at 1 p.m.
Her good friend, Ashley Campbell, will be featured as Clara in the other two performances this weekend.