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At first glance Carissa Gabriella is the girl who has everything. If you ask her she’ll tell you emphatically that she is. But behind her warm smile, sparkling eyes and perfectly freckled face, is a young woman who knows what it means to lose everything, to fight endlessly and to love unequivocally.

By the time she was five Carissa had already faced the loss of her father through suicide, but rather than drown in her sorrow, she danced. She danced for her mother every night in their living room to keep her spirits up. She danced for herself to channel her grief. Her spirit and her dancing carried her family to a better part of town, helped her to find a few years of professional training and onto the cheerleading squad for her school. Learn more about Carissa here

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