MASS™ Medical Storage Owner Aubrey Guezuraga is not your typical corporate sponsor. In fact, before his daughter Penelope was born it’s pretty safe to say he would never have predicted his company would be donating to Kansas City Ballet.
Penelope was born unilaterally deaf on her left side and wears a hearing aid. The doctors at Children’s Mercy told the Guezuragas she would have a hard life. They said she would have a lack of coordination; an inability to pay attention to more than one thing at a time; and that down the road, dyslexia and reading, learning, and behavioral issues would likely follow. That’s a tough prognosis for any parent to hear. They also made suggestions. They recommended she get involved in activities that would provide full-brain stimulation like music, art, and dance.
AN UNLIKELY BEGINNING
So at age 3, Penelope was enrolled in creative movement classes at Kansas City Ballet School. And although at a young age dance may not have come naturally, she continued to take classes year after year.
“Being good at ballet wasn’t the point for us,” Guezuraga says. “We just wanted to give her a chance to challenge her brain and help her development. But a funny thing happened as time went by… she loved it. We found everyone was so supportive and eventually something clicked. She began to have leadership opportunities in class and her confidence really grew.”
This progress spilled over into other aspects of Penelope’s life as well.
When she was in first grade she was testing in the bottom for reading skills. So, the Guezuragas got her a tutor. And using the same process of focus, determination, and persistence she’d been using for dance, Penelope improved.
Penelope has continued to exceed expectations. She placed 5th in KU’s engineering fair for 8th graders when she was only in the fifth grade. Adding to her dancing, last year she participated in The Nutcracker, The Sleeping Beauty and in the regional and national Youth American Grand Prix ballet competitions… and her lowest grade was a 98%.
Penelope is currently 11, in 6th grade, and the president of her class. She’s in Level 5 at KCBS and is still participating in Youth American Grand Prix. She’s a leader and a well-rounded person.
“The Ballet gave her a straight forward method of addressing problems and improving herself in part because there, she has always been treated as a capable person. She is humble and hard working. I thank the Ballet for giving her the tools and life lessons to help her to be the best she can be in all aspects of her life,” Guezaraga says.
BEHIND THE GIFT
Knowing how much Penelope has been helped, Guezaraga is grateful to the organization and also to all of the donors that see the value in supporting the mission of Kansas City Ballet and School. For that reason, he hopes his sponsorship shows his appreciation of both Kansas City Ballet and its supporters. But he also hopes he inspires other growing businesses to start on this path as well: Growing a community to support the arts to drive excellence and new thought and to drive inclusiveness.
“It’s a gift to me to be a part of helping bring Romeo & Juliet to Kansas City. And it’s only fitting since it is also the favorite score of my daughter and I,” Guezaraga says.