(DOUG JESSOP’S JESSOP’S JOURNAL ) I’m Doug Jessop – welcome to Jessop’s Journal as seen on ABC4 Sunday mornings at 10 and online at JessopsJournal.com. If you watched the show live, thank you. If you missed it, or want to share it – you can see the entire 30 minute episode by watching the accompanying video.
In this episode we visit with a dancer that has a powerful story of overcoming adversity – Ashleigh Di Lello.
The positive power of music is universal. One of this episode’s guests uses that talent at the first school in the U.S. for the visually impaired – Elena Cruz. And yes, she is also our musical guest.
Later in the show, we visit with a little boy has a song in his heart – the inspirational story of Gerold and music therapy.
What is it with Utah and reality shows? Dancing with the Stars has been on ABC4 for years. So You Think You Can Dance has been on the air for years as well. Did you know that a number of Utahns have been on these shows? In this episode of Jessop’s Journal, I visited with a dancer, Ashleigh Di Lello, that has been on both shows. We talked about a lot of things, including what you don’t see “behind the curtain” …her medical miracle story.
Ashleigh told me; “My husband (Ryan Di Lello) and I are most well known as the only married couple on So You Think You Can Dance We’ve also performed on Dancing with the Stars, Ellen and then we went on to Broadway and headlined Broadway Shows.” I had the pleasure to meet both Ashleigh and Ryan. There is definitely chemistry between these two.
What you might not know about Ashleigh is what she was told at the age of thirteen; “I’ll never forget a particular moment that came to define my life as I had the doctor come in. looked at me, took a deep breath, and said “you need to accept that you are not going to live past your teenage years. You’ll never dance again, never had kids, never have a normal life.” I looked down and mustered the greatest courage I could have at that time and looked up and said, “I don’t accept this.”
She continued; “It was such a defining moment that I’ve drawn from. Because I accepted right then that I would not allow other people limitations to become mine. I knew that I was coming into the greatest fight of my life, but I decided that rather than try to not die, that I was going to put my energies and efforts into living.”
Ashleigh was out of dance from thirteen almost fourteen until she was twenty, typically the prime years for athletic training and development. Six years later she was on national television doing what she loved.
What does Ashleigh credit being able to bounce back in her performance career? She got emotional as she told me; “I would dance in my mind. And I would go through my routines, and I would like I was classed. I felt it so much in my heart. I remember laying there in tears. Not from despair, but from joy, of what one day I planned to experience again. I have no doubt that was so pivotal in me being able to come back the way I did. Because for those six years I was patterning within my brain and body the feeling of dance without being physically being able to do it.”
Ashleigh is a prime example making lemonade out of lemons. She has taken her experiences and shares what she calls “Bio Emotional Healing” In a nutshell, she feels strongly about the mind/body connection, neuroscience, and visualization.
As we wrapped up our interview, I came back to something doctors said that she wouldn’t be able to do…” DOUG – I’ve gotta ask, do you have any children? ASHLEIGH – I do. I have one. She is a beautiful girl.. My Sofia. She’s, my miracle.”
Everyone has a story. Sometimes these stories are told through music. It’s time for the musical guest portion of the show – Jessop’s Jukebox.
Elena Bowlus Cruz is the singing voice behind the Madam Pattirini commercial. The song is called “O Mio Babbino Caro by Puccini”. Elena agreed to sign it for us.
‘O Mio babbino caro’ translates as ‘Oh my dear papa’, and it is sung by Lauretta, who begs her father Gianni Schicchi to help her marry the love of her life, Rinuccio.
O Mio babbino caro
Mi piace, è bello, bello
Vo’ andare in Porta Rossa
A comperar l’anello!
Sì, sì, ci voglio andare!
E se l’amassi indarno,
Andrei sul Ponte Vecchio,
Ma per buttarmi in Arno!
Mi struggo e mi tormento!
O Dio, vorrei morir!
Babbo, pietà, pietà!
Babbo, pietà, pietà!
Oh my dear papa
I like him, he is so handsome.
I want to go to Porta Rossa
To buy the ring!
Yes, yes, I want to go there!
And if my love were in vain,
I would go to the Ponte Vecchio
And throw myself in the Arno!
I am pining, I am tormented!
Oh God, I would want to die!
Father, have pity, have pity!
Father, have pity, have pity!
I’m known as the #tvhatguy. I get asked a lot, “how many hats do you have?” Let’s just say enough to do #DougsHatoftheWeek. This week’s hat is based on a special monogram pin that one of my ancestors brought when he emigrated to the United States in 1869. The custom-made derby I designed with JW Custom Hats is called “The 1869 Holm.”
Everyone learns differently. Elena Bowlus Cruz helps teach children dealing with visual impairment as well as autism.
The school that teaches at is “the” school for the blind. It is the same school that Helen Keller’s teacher attended – The Perkins School for the Blind.
We talked about everything from growing up in Wyoming to her journey about how she ended up in Boston.
I don’t want to give away everything we talked about – you’ll need to watch the accompanying video to find out more. I will say it was interesting to see how COVID has impacted the education system.
Of course, we talked about her music. Come to find out that she is now getting into music therapy…which leads into my next story…
What makes you happy? For Gerold, a little dude with a big heart – music therapy makes all the difference.
Gerold had dilated cardiomyopathy, an enlarged heart that decreased the blood flow in his body. His Mom, Amanda, explains. “It was irreversible. It was getting worse. He ended up on what’s called a Berlin Heart that’s an external heart pumping his blood for him. He was on that for 7 months, which is the longest they’ve ever had somebody on it at Primary’s.”
Gerold got a heart transplant at Primary Children’s Hospital in Salt Lake City, Utah in March. He’s still at the hospital recovering. I got to meet him at the music therapy room.
It is clear that 3-year-old Gerold loves the music therapy room and the people that run it. He gave me “knuckles” and then brought me over to a set of bins to get fruit shaped shakers. He got a banana and gave me an apple. Music therapist Spencer went to work. The next thing I know we are all singing “apples and bananas” together.
Gerold and his family have been through a lot. I was impressed with how happy he was. Amanda told me; “Music makes him happier than anything else. If there is a song playing, he’s dancing. Even when he was in the ICU, very sedated right after his transplant, we put on the troll’s movie, and there is one little clip that come on. He’s half asleep and he couldn’t stop himself from doing a little shimmy in his bed. If it’s on, he is dancing, and he is happy about it.
What is music therapy? I asked Spencer Hardy, a music therapist at Primary Children’s Hospital. He said, “It’s really rooted in addressing the needs of an individual through music, it’s as simple as that. Anything from helping a kid in the hospital having a problem falling asleep. or it could be writing as song with a teenager to help them process a new diagnosis.”
What gives Spencer hope? His answer is inspiring. “Of being able to look at a really challenging situation and still be able to find hope, to be able to find beauty and be able to create joy. I think those are the things we try to do in a children’s hospital. It can be really challenging, but it can be really rewarding too. I always say it is an honor to get to work with these families, because it truly is.”
It is my honor to share with you powerful, positive, and inspirational stories on TV and at JessopsJournal.com. Consider this your personal invitation to watch this entire episode of Jessop’s Journal and share it with someone that needs a boost.
Everyone has a story. I strongly feel that “stories have power”. Chances are that if you are going through something, that someone else probably has as well. The shared experiences we humans have can help each other. That my friend makes the point that stories “help us understand each other.”
You don’t have to agree with everyone, but in my opinion, if people would take more time getting to knowing more about others and where they are coming from, we just might find out that we have more similarities than differences.
Jessop’s Journal is something special when it comes to broadcast news. I have the honor of being able to do longer in-depth interviews that you don’t normally see with people from all walks of life. A big shout out goes to my collaborator, Ed Wilets , who does a great job as my videographer/editor for all my stories.
*** Jessop’s Journal is a copyrighted production of Fedora Incorporated ***