Young dancer loses leg after strep throat

Dancer suffers complications from strep throat

Only 6-years-old, and if you just say the name Tessa Puma at Center Stage Dance studio in Northfield, you get,

"Super star. Phenom. A blessing. A joy to be around," says dance instructor Stacey Kopec.

9-year-old dancer Joelle Cherry happy to chime in with, “Every time she's on stage she has her big beautiful smile and always goes full out and lights up the whole stage," says Cherry through a huge smile of her own.

“She’s just in love with dance," says Kopec.

Now sweet talented Tessa Puma will learn to dance again...with her left leg amputated below the knee.

That’s where flesh eating bacteria destroyed most of the muscles and tissue.

"It was a lifesaving decision," says Kopec.

It started with a case of strep throat, a round of antibiotics and then the flu.

Within days doctors said a swollen painful leg had to go.

"Even though she's going to have a robotic leg, she's going to rock it," Cherry says with confidence.

9-year-old dancer Hayley Tater, says of her friend, “She'll be really amazing.  I know that."

At 5-years-old Tessa  was the youngest to make the Center Stage competitive dance team.

She was pint size inspiration then, and now?

"She's even more inspirational," says Tater.

"At first we were like why Tessa?  Because she is that much of a star.  But now we are starting to realize, as incredible as she was, she has much better things in store for her than ever even imagined," says Kopec.

Tessa’s trademark bows are now worn everywhere on just about every head at Center Stage, in a sign of solidarity with their Tessa.

"We are going to PRAY her thru this journey that they are on.  She's got a long road ahead of her but not only does she have physical talent, she has the personality to be on stage and she has the work ethic that for a child her age is very rare to have that kind of focus, drive and determination and because of that, we know she's going to overcome this," says Kopec.

If Cherry had the ear of her friend Tessa as she continues to recover in the hospital, she would want her to know, "You ARE going to get so much better because I know everything is going to be alright."

10-year-old dancer Isabella Gizzo pretty much speaks for everyone when she says “We miss you and we all love you.”

If you’d like to help the Puma family out, log onto www.youcaring.com

© 2017 WKYC-TV


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