Have a seat and get ready to read about one of the most inspiring people on this planet in this week's #ManCrushMonday feature.
Luca "Lazylegz" Patuelli uses his ILL-ability to do what he loves and to help others do the same. Luca was born on July 28, 1984 in Montreal, Quebec with anthrogryposis, a rare disorder that is explained by limited joint movement and poor muscle growth. When he was just 8 years-old with scoliosis, a condition affecting the curve of his spine. At 13, he immediately required surgery, which wouldn't be the last, over the course of his life, Luca has had a total of 16 surgeries. Through all of his struggles, he found his true love... Breakdancing. Never has he let his disability get the best of him. Luca has been on America's Got Talent, So You Think You Can Dance Canada, and has gone on tour with a crew that he put together consisting of the best "ill-abled" dancers from Canada, USA, Chile, and Holland. He was even on Ellen!
Now enough babbling, we still have an interview to get through. Check out our Q&A below:
Do you believe that dancing is your calling?
That’s a good question. I think dance has always been a part of my life somehow even when I didn’t realize it. There was something about music and just grooving to the music that I have always appreciated and felt liberated. When I was introduced to B-Boying “Breakdancing”, I did not realize it would take over my life in such a positive way. Breaking and the culture around breaking helped give me the confidence to believe in myself and accept myself for who I am. Now, I believe my calling is to transmit my passion to the world.
When did you realize that you wanted and were able to help others in similar situations?
I’ve had a total of 16 surgeries growing up. I have an enormous respect for Nurses as well as the volunteers that come to spend time with the kids. I remember there used to be a group of clowns that would come in to make balloons and make us laugh. Even though the time with these clowns was short, their presence made a big impact to my recovery out of the hospitals. So when I started dancing and realized I had the potential to make a difference in peoples lives I started by visiting kids in hospitals. I would dance for them and get them to move with me. To this day I still perform and visit with kids in hospitals when I can.
With my wife Melissa, and a friend Marie-Elaine we started Projet RAD, an inclusive urban dance program to allow youth with special needs the opportunity to take dance classes in regular dance studios. It’s my passion to see youth smiling having fun and learning to believe in them-selves.
What was it like being on Ellen? Was it everything you expected and more?
It was a dream come true! I am a huge fan. I was so nervous but it was definitely everything I expected and more.
Where is life going to take you next? How are you going to continue to make a difference?
My wife Melissa and I just had a baby girl Aura Isabella. Right now, I would like to focus on finding a balance to continue doing what I am doing but without compromising the time I give to my family.
I would like to see RAD expand across Canada and would love to continue raising awareness for accessibility and inclusion.
Who is your role model/inspiration?
This is a tough question to answer because I believe that we are inspirations for each other. We all learn from one another and learn from everything we experience. So I could not just name one person - however, I can say that my parents, my brother Stephano, and my friends that I grew-up with in Bethesda, MD had a huge roll in my life and they always encouraged me to participate in any activity I wanted to do.
First things first, congratulations to Luca and Melissa on their bundle of joy! Second of all, what an amazing human being. I couldn't have accomplished half of what he has done if I was him. And the fact that not only is not letting his disability get in the way of him living his life, he's helping others to the same. Luca inspires me to be a better person and to not take the smallest things in life for granted.
If you want to read more about Luca "Lazylegz" Patuelli and the projects that he is a part of, click here.