Scott County resident Kaylee Borden shines when she takes the stage during her dance recitals at Lisa Morgan’s Dance Studio. She spins around the stage with her older sister, Kaitlyn. There is beauty in their dance.
“Upon just a single glance, it’s immediately obvious how the entire dance crew feels music down deep in a place the rest of us haven’t experienced,” said Melanie Hollis, a Nashville, Tenn., mother of three. “It’s an unforgettable sight to see as joy always radiates from this beauty’s [Kaylee’s] face.”
Hollis met Kaylee Borden last year at one of Borden’s dance recitals. The serendipitous meeting profoundly impacted Hollis’ heart. So much that Hollis is competing against women around the world one of the largest online fitness competitions to become the 2018 Ms. Health & Fitness. The winner receives $20,000, and Hollis plans to give $10,000 of the prize to help the 12-year-old Indiana girl to move around her house.
Borden uses a wheelchair, and at the age of 12, she has endured more than 15 surgeries. She is unable to walk or communicate with ease. Her home is not wheelchair accessible, so Borden’s mother, Jennifer, moves her room to room. But, as a growing preteen, Borden is quickly outgrowing the strength of her loving mother’s arms.
“…Being consistently presented with new hardships has never stopped Kaylee from overcoming each obstacle and coming out on top,” said Kaitlyn Borden, who recently graduated Scottsburg High School and is heading to college in the fall. “If I were to describe my sister in one word, I would say miracle. Throughout the past 12 years, God has continuously shown not only our family but hundreds of other people how He can perform miracles on a daily basis.”
Hollis’ and Kaylee Borden’s friendship started last year when Kaitlyn Borden contacted Hollis’ daughter, Lydia. Lydia Hollis is a singer-songwriter in Nashville, and she wrote a song that Kaylee and her fellow dancers performed to during a recital last year. Lydia Hollis wrote the song, “Without You,” to celebrate her younger siblings with Down syndrome and the families in the special needs community.
“Not only did Lydia respond with acclimation of gratitude and love, but so did her mom, Melanie Hollis,” Kaitlyn Borden said. “During last year’s Kids First Auction, Melanie, Lydia, and her two younger siblings traveled from Nashville to allow Lydia to perform ‘Without You’ with Kaylee’s dance class.”
“We got to meet all the dancers,” Melanie Hollis said. “[Kaylee’s] amazing.”
Melanie Hollis wanted to help Kaylee and her family. At the age of 50, Hollis signed up for a fitness competition, where people vote online through Facebook for the best competitor. Additional votes can be cast by donating money toward the Wounded Warrior Project.
“I’m a fitness fanatic,” Hollis said. “The winner of Ms. Health And Fitness 2018 gets $20,000. And if I win, half the winnings will go to Kaylee and half will go toward the Trousdale School’s residential center. That’s the reason a 50-year-old special needs mom would enter this kind of competition. I mean, let’s get real. The rules encourage contestants to use professional photos. And as a mom of two cuties who have special needs, I barely have time to snap pictures with my iPhone.”
Hollis started her journey into the fitness world to help her with anxiety.
“Four years ago, I was so overwhelmed with many different things life was throwing at me. It got to a point where I was I living each moment waiting for the next panic attack. Anxiety looks different for every person. For me, panic attacks would come out of nowhere and would cause my body to start shaking violently. It was completely out of my control and frightening. Finally, I reached a point where I had to make a change,” Hollis said.
She hired a trainer to help push her physically and cast her worries on the gym floor. She works out five days each week and runs one mile each day. She competes in at least one race each month. So far this year, she has run in 10 races, placing in top spots in several of them. Hollis felt herself becoming mentally stronger.
“One day, I may be in Kaylee’s mom’s shoes and find myself needing assistance in widening a doorway or in buying a piece of therapy equipment for my own kiddos. One day, I may not be able to care for Hope and Charlie, and they may need a residential center where they can thrive while being loved and kept safe. Kaylee represents my life. The Trousdale School represents my life,” Hollis said. “I’m extremely involved with the special needs community.”
So far, Hollis has made it through the first round and has six more to go. To vote for Hollis and the Borden family, anyone with a Facebook account can cast a vote for free, or one can donate to the Wounded Warriors Project to cast a vote online by visiting https://mshealthandfitness.com/2018/melanie-hollis
“Waking up to see the pure love and kindness Melanie is giving our family is a feeling that is hard to put into words. Our family feels extremely blessed and grateful to have a friend such as Melanie that is willing to enter a competition in order to provide Kaylee’s needs that are continuously growing. To be able to gift a family $10,000 in order to provide a handicap accessible home for their loved one is extremely overwhelming. To my family and I, Melanie is performing such a selfless act that we would never be able to repay or thank her enough for,” Kaitlyn Borden said.