PHOTO BY JENNIFER OSBORN

Students raise money for dance teacher’s wheelchair



PHOTO BY JENNIFER OSBORN

Two of Chelsea Libitzki’s dance students, Abbie Mazgaj (left) and Sarah Spoon (right) are helping Libitzki raise money to purchase a stand-up wheelchair. To donate, go to http://www.gofundme.com/blqqlo.

ELLSWORTH — Two of Chelsea Libitzki’s students donated money from a piggy bank and a lemonade stand last week toward their paralyzed dance teacher’s efforts to obtain a stand-up wheelchair.

Libitzki, 26, is paralyzed from the chest down. She broke two vertebrae in her spine in a car accident four years ago.

“I broke my c4, c5 vertebrae,” she said. “I’m waiting for a cure for paralysis, basically.

“I don’t remember the actual accident, but I remember waking up and trying to get up and not being able to.”

The former dancer is hopeful.

“They’re doing all kinds of stuff with stem cell and robotics,” Libitzki said. “I’m just waiting for a day that they say they found a cure.”

Because Libitzki can’t stand up, a standing wheelchair will help improve her bone density, blood circulation and muscle tone, among other benefits.

Her mother, Cheryl Libitzki, has started a gofundme.org site to raise money for the $50,000 wheelchair.

“Right now, basically, I have movement in one arm (the right) that I use and I use it for everything,” Libitzki said. “So I’m pretty much paralyzed from the chest down and I can’t get much exercise. I’m never standing straight up, so it would be an amazing thing for me to have.”

Libitzki’s mom, Cheryl, owns a dance studio at the Mill Mall in Ellsworth. Libitzki grew up dancing from the age of 5 on.

“I was always on the go, really busy,” Libitzki said, of life before the crash. “I was a massage therapist. The summer of my accident, I was working, cleaning for a family in Seal Harbor and cleaning with my sister and doing massage and nannying.”

“I had recently gotten back from a volunteer program I was doing in Guatemala,” said Libitzki. “I was saving up money to go back and do the same thing again.” That was with Global Vision International.

Now, Libitzki is taking college courses in psychology online and teaching ballet, tap and jazz at her mother’s studio.

“Basically the thing I have the most fun with now is teaching and being with the kids,” she said. “It’s hard when they first meet me because sometimes they’re a little bit leery. But after a while, they see I can teach and I’m normal, it’s just I have an injury.”

Libitzki said she was “absolutely floored” that her students donated and raised money for her.

“It’s amazing that people are so driven to help me out with this,” she said. “I was completely amazed that Sarah was able to raise so much money. And my student Abbie took money of her own and donated it to me. It’s just very sweet.”

Sarah Spoon raised over $187 by running a lemonade stand. Sarah’s contribution was more than tripled raised by an anonymous donor.

Sarah’s mother, LeAnne, said her daughter will be holding another lemonade stand to raise money for her teacher during Autumn Gold (Sept. 26-28).

Student Abbie Mazgaj donated money as well.

Jennifer Osborn

Jennifer Osborn

Reporter and columnist at The Ellsworth American
News Reporter Jennifer Osborn covers news and features on the Blue Hill Peninsula and Deer Isle-Stonington. She welcomes tips and story ideas. She also writes the Gone Shopping column. Email Jennifer with your suggestions at [email protected] or call 667-2576.