11-year-old girl dies suddenly in her sleep

Courtesy of family and friends of Ja'niya Taylor.

A local family is mourning the loss of an 11-year-old girl who died unexpectedly just a few days ago. Janiyah Taylor passed away Monday morning in her sleep. Family and friends remember her as a sweet little girl who had a passion for dance.

The loss didn't just affect Janiyah's family, its also taken a toll on her dance mates. Their dance instructor said they're having a hard time understanding it all. Her goal as the instructor is to be strong for her them and honor Janiyah in whatever way she can.

Janiyah is remembered as a leader, a dancer, a learner, and a friend.

"She was a vibrant young lady. Very, very vibrant," said Rachael Reese, Dance Instructor and Owner of Elevation Dance Company. "A joy to be around. She was determined. She just always wanted to be better and do better."

Janiyah passed away Monday morning in her sleep leaving family and friends heartbroken and confused.

"It was numbing. It was shocking.It came out of no where. Also it didn't only break my heart but it hit very close to home," Reese said.

Janiyah spent 8 months at Elevation Dance Company where she was learning ballet and jazz and hip hop dance. Reese says her time there left an imprint that will never fade away.

"This sweet girl had an impact on her whole community. She left a mark here a very good mark," she said.

The most difficult part of it all for Reese was telling Janiyah's fellow dancers that she is gone.

"They cried a lot. They're still crying according to their parents. They're still trying to understand why, why did she have to go like that and they couldn't tell her bad. They're still trying to understand. They're still young," explained Reese.

There's a pair of ballet slippers that'll never be worn again but Reese says with her determination, she knows Janiyah is still dancing.

"She's dancing in heaven more than she ever could on earth," she added.

Elevation Dance Company is selling rubber bracelets on Saturday to raise money for Janiyah's family. The bracelets have Janiyah's name on them and they are selling for $2. You can buy one or donate at Elevation Dance Company at 2180 Schillinger Road North this Saturday, March 10 from 9 am to 12 noon. All proceeds will go to Janiyah's family for funeral and burial expenses.

Elevation is also having a Balloon release this Sunday, March 11 at 4 pm at Elevation Dance Company. This is open to the public. All remaining bracelets will be sold there. You can also leave donations.

Janiyah's family has also set up a GoFundMe account. To donate, click here.

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Toi Thornton is a Reporter. His Bachelor's degree in Broadcast Journalism comes from Dillard University in 2014 and his Master's degree in New Media Journalism from Full Sail University in 2016. He previously worked as the Fox anchor in Lafayette, LA.

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