Oscar von Memerty has a rare condition called Maroteaux Lamy Syndrome, which is characterised by dwarfism among other symptoms. However, he doesn’t let his disability get in the way of doing what he loves: dancing and motivating other young people to take life head-on!
Oscar has overcome massive physical challenges because of his rare medical condition, and is using his life story and dance performances to motivate and inspire others. He hosts corporate and educational roadshows with his crew from Zinto – a brand activation, entertainment and event company – speaking to company employees and school children in order to get them to focus on their passion and to aim for greatness regardless of life’s challenges.
He believes his role in life is to use the power of dance to demonstrate that perseverance and positive thinking will give you the opportunity to fulfil your potential and purpose.
How did someone who has experienced such a lot of challenges in life develop such a positive mindset?
My family made a huge contribution to my thinking – especially my parents, Ian and Viv. They treated me like a normal kid. I didn’t realise that I was any different from other children until the day I started school and realised that I was shorter than other people. They didn’t focus on the negatives; they rather focused on my positives. I know am lucky to be alive and I share my life story to inspire others because I am testament of the fact that with hard work and a positive mindset, anything is possible.
It hasn’t been any easy journey though…
I am really grateful to my parents. They worked hard to make sure I was able to get the operations I needed to be alive today. Without my bone marrow transplants, I could be deaf or blind or immobile. Because of their hard work, I can live to be an old man. I had one when I was two years old and another when I was five years old. It was hard; I went through six months of chemotherapy and isolation afterward. My heart stopped for ten minutes and I spent ten days in a coma. My older sister also had a bone marrow transplant at the time, but passed away from a lung infection. I didn’t know where she was or why she was gone.
And, then you started school?
Yes. When I started school, I had a lower level of confidence. I think the kids sensed that and zoned in on it. I became more confident once I had a better understanding about myself. It was a slow process. By the time I was in Grade 5, I was as confident as I am today.
That’s when you started dancing, right?
That’s when I discovered dancing and my passion for it. It’s funny, my friend and I were at home making a home video and So You Think You Can Dance was big at the time. I mimicked dance routines from the movie High School Musical and when my dad saw it, he said: ‘Wow. You’re actually really good. You should pursue it.’ I, then, danced at the school talent show and did so well that they wanted me to dance again. It was an amazing feeling and an extra boost to my confidence.
What are some of the limitations of your condition, in terms of dancing?
I can’t do flips and headstands; but, that’s why I specialise in a form hip hop dancing called popin’. It’s almost as if you are exploding from the inside – and this works well with me because I am compact. I can never do ballroom or Latin; but that’s simply because partners are just too tall!
Oscar von Memerty is the son of entertainer and co-host of SA’s Got Talent judge, Ian von Memerty.
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