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UPDATE: 15-year-old dancing against the odds, community raises funds for New York trip

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CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) -

UPDATE: A local dancer's dreams are coming true as he packs his bags for the school of American Ballet in New York City. 
 
We told you about Lajeromeny Brown's story of hope in early May. The stand-out dancer, who is blind in one eye, got accepted to the prestigious school but his family couldn't afford to fund travel and living expenses. 
   
After the Chattanooga community saw his story on Channel 3, donations to the family came pouring in and now his dream is becoming a reality. 
  
"If you have a dream you are trying to pursue don't let people ridicule you or call you names because you are doing something you love," said Lajeromeny Brown. 

The 15-year-old ballet dancer was fighting to get out of a bad neighborhood. When the blue lights and bullets stopped, he practiced in the playground with big dreams. 
   
"I just refuse to let myself be the stereotype that comes out of these neighborhoods," said Brown. 

Lajeromeny is no stranger to obstacles, he chose ballet for the challenge and it's easy to see that he is talented. 

"Lajeromeny Brown has raised the standard of excellence at Ballet Tennessee. I love this young man for who he is, kind, always willing to help another person, talented, motivated. My heart is with him," said Anna Baker-VanCura, Artistic Director, Ballet Tennessee. 

His family started a Gofundme page after he was accepted into the School of American Ballet's summer program in New York. 
 
They said they needed help with travel and living expenses.
 
"My original goal was $2,000 but I ended up with about $5,300 dollars," said Lajeromeny. "I was just really surprised that so many people were supporting me and have my back."

Hundreds of people wrote him well wishes, some even called him a big inspiration to young teenagers in dance and in life. 

"I have had the pleasure of seeing Lajeromeny grow over the past few years as a student, dancer, artist and person. I am truly thankful to have been a part of his journey and am excited to see what this wonderful opportunity has in store," said Hannah Locke, Ballet Administrator, Ballet Tennessee. 

" You are the gem my father told me so much about. I'm grateful to have the opportunity to teach and know you. Love and Luck," said Victoria VanCura, Associate Director, Ballet Tennessee. 

The teen leaves for the summer this weekend, it will be the first time he's ever traveled on a plane and thanks to donations he can now experience broad way shows, six-flags and several other museums along the way.  He says the journey means so much more. 

 "I just want to say thank you so much you guys are phenomenal people and I appreciate every little but because every little thing counts and I won't let anybody down," said Brown. 

Lajeromeny's mom tells us the donations and her own savings helped her family move into a new home. Friends and family say they are excited to see what the future holds. 

"It has been a special journey watching Lajeromeny grow and thrive in the world of dance. He holds a special place in my heard and I am so proud of him and all of his accomplishments," said Brittany Johnson-Mills, Programs Administrator, Ballet Tennessee. 

"Keep going no matter what, keep going because anything is possible," said Brown. 

Lajeromeny will have a going away party this Friday at Ballet Tennessee.  He says he is most excited to get in the classroom and perfect his technique. 
When we asked about his future in dance, he said this is just the beginning. 
 


PREVIOUS STORY: Out of 100 other competitors from around the world, one local teen was accepted into the prestigious School of American Ballet in New York. 
 
It's just one of many accomplishments from the stand-out dancer who is blind in one eye, his family lives in one of Chattanooga's most troubled areas where opportunities are sometimes hard to come by.

15-year-old, Lajeromeny Brown was recently honored for his outstanding academic report card and 4.0 GPA , he even got a congratulations letter from President Obama. He says at times his dreams seemed far reaching but he never gave up practicing or working hard. He hopes his story inspires others. 

"If you have a dream that you are trying to pursue don't let people ridicule you or call you names because you're doing something that you love," said Brown. 

Brown practices ballet several hours a day. 

"It's the hardest for me, it's one that really doesn't come that natural so I like that it challenges me," said Brown. 

He's no stranger to challenges, his neighborhood sees shootings and gang violence around every corner. When the blue lights and bullets stop, the playground becomes his stage. 

"I just refuse to let myself be I guess the stereotype that comes out of these neighborhoods because my mother has taught me to be the best and try my hardest so that's what I'm going to do," said Brown. 

 "It's amazing, I cry every time it's just amazing," said Lajeromeny's mother Tiara Ward. " I remember when he couldn't do one turn and now he is doing 5 and 6, it's just amazing. Anything is possible, anything is possible." 

Single mom of 3, Tiara Ward is beyond proud, you wouldn't know it by watching him dance but Lajeromeny is blind in his left eye.  Against all odds, he was accepted by the School of American Ballet in New York City. 

"It's not where you live,  it's how you live," said Ward. " I'm just happy he's a positive role model in a community that we live in full of gang members." 

When Lajeromeny dances all fear, worry and doubt fade away, hope springs. 

"I'm just dancing and that's all that matters in that moment," said Brown. 

A scholarship will cover his training this summer but his mom needs to find a way to pay for travel and living costs. The family has set up a Go Fund Me page listing the need for typical items a college student would need. 

Lajeromeny was accepted into the Debbie Allen School of Dance last year, but his family couldn't afford the trip.
 
"This year I said by any means necessary because I'm living in poverty struggling and I don't what that to stop his dream, because he's awesome," said Ward. 

Lajeromeny says if you have a big dream " you chase it."

"It's a weird atmosphere to be in but you know you just have to accept it and move on and hope that things get better," said Brown. 

To find out ways that you can help Click: HERE 

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