14-Year-Old Heart Patient, A National Dance Champ, Was Treated To Surprise Visit From “Dancing With The Stars” Champion Val Chmerkovsky
What do you give a young dancer who survived a life-threatening heart condition, awoke from surgery and immediately asked, “When can I dance again?” The answer—a surprise meeting with world-famous dance champion Val Chmerkovsky! Val, who was recently awarded the mirror-ball trophy for his incredible performance on this season’s “Dancing With the Stars,” heard about 14-year-old Gianna Schupler of Dix Hills, and decided to get involved---like the true champion he is. Gianna, who has always been very passionate about her dancing, began fainting during her athletic tap routines. At first, her worried parents and her doctor chalked it up to exhaustion and dehydration. So, she kept on dancing. When the fainting episodes continued, her parents, Maria and Phil, were determined to find out what was causing these attacks? And why only during tap? Finally, Gianna’s parents brought her to Cohen Children’s Medical Center where cardiac surgeon David Meyer, MD, discovered a malfunction in her left coronary artery---a potentially life-threatening abnormality that could have caused sudden death during exercise. When Gianna exerted herself, her heart muscle was starved of blood, became weak and couldn’t pump enough blood to her brain, causing her to pass out. After a complex open heart procedure and just five days in the hospital, Gianna was on the road to recovery. Following her surgery on March 19, 2014, Gianna was dancing again in less than three months. She won the Starbound National Dance Competition in tap shortly thereafter. Gianna believed she was participating in a media event at Dance With Me Studio, where Val Chmerkovsky is a partner and coach. She is going to perform a 2-minute tap routine to show everyone that she is cured of the potentially fatal heart condition that could have taken her life. When she finished dancing, she’ll recieved the surprise of her life when Val entered the ballroom and invites Gianna to give him a few pointers.