2016-02-17 / Local News

Dancer Leah Wayne hosting party to combat childhood pain disorders


FAMILY: Parents Missy and Adam; sister Nina, 7

SYNAGOGUE: Temple Beth Sholom


FAVORITE MOVIE: “Pitch Perfect”

FAVORITE SONG: “Stand by You” by Rachel Platten

Cherry Hill fifth-grader Leah Wayne is truly at her happiest and feeling her best when she’s dancing.

She loves every style she’s ever tried: Tap, jazz, lyrical, modern, contemporary, hip-hop, ballet. And she’s up for any dance challenge. Even when Leah’s not in class or practicing a specific routine, her feet never stop tapping.

But suddenly last March, dancing turned painful. No sooner had she taken a final bow after finishing in a local competition, Leah felt a pain like daggers in her foot. She left the stage in tears, barely able to walk.

When the pain did not go away, another chapter of Leah’s dancer life began. She was diagnosed with Amplified Musculoskeletal Pain Syndrome, a pediatric medical condition that causes an overactive pain response. Now under treatment at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP)’s highly regarded AMPS program, Leah endures an intensive regimen of physical therapy at CHOP both in Voorhees and Philadelphia even as she continues to dance six days a week.

Not one to complain about the pain, Leah is sharing her story because she’s on a mission to raise both awareness about AMPS and to help other children fighting through such pain disorders. As a community mentor for Ivivva, a boutique active wear store for girls, she is fittingly organizing a dance party fundraiser Feb. 21 to benefit CHOP’s AMPS program.

“I’m really excited about it,” she said. “I want to raise money to help Dr. Sherry buy new equipment.”

Dr. David Sherry, a rheumatologist and director of CHOP’s AMPS program, is a nationally recognized expert with musculoskeletal pain amplification syndromes in children and the treatment of juvenile arthritis. The program, one of a very few in the country, attracts patients worldwide.

Her partnership with Ivivva evolved from frequent trips for dance attire to the Haddonfield-based children’s clothing store. Manager Katelyn Donald said Leah was a natural choice as one of the store’s inaugural community mentors. The mentors, ages 9-12, were chosen for their devotion to their sport and community mindedness, said Donald. Each is required to hold a fundraiser for a charity of her choice.

Only after Leah learned about the fundraiser component to the program did she mention her struggles with pain and personal connection to the AMPS program, said Donald.

“Some days you could tell something was a little off but she never even mentioned it,” said Donald. “She’s happy and loving all the time.”

Missy Wayne, Leah’s mother, said her daughter definitely puts up a brave front, even as her treatment is extremely intense. The only proven treatment for AMPS is enduring grueling exercises that help to retrain the nerves, Wayne explained.

“It takes a huge amount of fight and buy-in to work through the pain,” said Wayne, noting that there is family history of pain disorders.

Leah said she hopes to raise at least $5,000 with her dance party, which is open to any interested boy or girl. It will be held Sunday, Feb. 21 at 5 p.m. at Dance Arts in Cherry Hill, and includes a class, actual dance and refreshments.

For more information or to RSVP, visit http://chop.donordrive.com/campaign/leahfightspain. 

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