A 12-year-old Scottsdale girl danced her way to winning a brand-new electric bike.
Abriel “Abri” Bentley won Penta Medical Recycling’s Dance 4 Mobility Challenge earlier this month.
But what makes her win so special is Abri is an amputee.
Abri was diagnosed at age 7 with Ewing Sarcoma, a form of bone cancer.
And after 17 rounds of chemo, an unsuccessful limb salvage surgery that led to bone removal and a decision to amputate rather than attempt another limb salvage, Abri is now cancer-free – and dancing just so happens to be one of her favorite hobbies.
“I can’t believe I won!” Abri said of the Dance 4 Mobility Challenge. “I am so amazed that the judges said my dance made them cry.”
Abri submitted her dance on Instagram just days before she underwent surgery.
“I was in my wheelchair at the time because it was right before my surgery to remove the metal in my leg. My leg hurt too much to walk, so I had to be in my wheelchair,” Abri said.
But when she found out about the contest, she decided to make up a dance and have her mom, Nikkole Bentley, record it.
“Even though it hurt, it was definitely worth it,” Abri said.
Penta Medical Recycling is a nonprofit organization that repurposes used prosthetic limbs from the U.S. and sends them to amputees in need across the globe.
“Penta’s team is thrilled to be able to present Abri with this prize and is thoroughly inspired by her story,” said Henry Iseman, executive director of Penta. “It is our hope that by giving the gift of mobility to amputees without access to care around the world that we can help them overcome the challenges they face and pursue their passions just like Abri has.”
The Dance 4 Mobility Challenge on Instagram encouraged users to create and post their own inventive short dance routines.
The challenge amassed more than 3 million impressions and garnered dance videos from both the able and disabled communities.
Abri saw the challenge as a way to share her inspiring story and her love of dancing.
“I love that I can tell a story without using words,” she said. “When I am sad or angry, I can just dance and get my feelings out, so I feel better. Dance has always been a part of me.”
She’s already put her M2S E-Bike to use, mostly to the park or to a friend’s house and back.
“I ride my bike almost every single day and absolutely love it!” Abri said. “My old bike was too heavy for me with my stabilizer wheels on the back, so I couldn’t ride it. I wasn’t able to stop it safely or get it going on my own.”
Dance 4 Mobility Challenge participants were entered to win a number of prizes, including an electric bike donated by M2S Bikes and a personalized voice-message from actor and philanthropist Kevin Bacon.
“We were honored to participate in the Penta Dance 4 Mobility Challenge and provide a bike to the winner,” said Eric Crews, founder of M2S Bikes.
“M2S Bikes was founded with the idea of offering bikes that give riders ‘The Power To Explore Their World.’ We truly believe that our pedal-assist electric bikes can provide a fun and enjoyable experience for people looking to get out and enjoy the outdoors by helping to provide a little assistance to make the tough climbs and long rides a little easier and a lot more fun,” Crews continued. “We can’t wait to see how Abri is going to use her bike and look forward to following her journey.”
Abri has a positive outlook on her life, living by the mantra, “I’m not disabled – I’m enhanced.”
What Abri hopes kids learn from her story is to never hide from their disabilities, “because it is what makes them unique.”
“I want them to embrace their differences and show the world how amazing they can be,” she said. “We can do anything anyone else can we just have to do it a bit different. Disabilities are really just superpowers; it just depends on how you look at it.”
Abri said she wishes parents would teach their children that it’s OK to ask people with enhancements questions instead of pretending they don’t exist.
“I like to talk about my leg. I’m proud of my leg. It makes me who I am. And I like who I am,” Abri said. “If kids don’t ask questions, they won’t learn the right answers. And as I always say, I would stare at me too.”
To watch Abri’s winning dance, visit @teamabri on Instagram.