NAPLES, Uintah County — Phillip Sizemore was working in North Dakota when he got the first call from his wife.
"I just kept calling him and telling him, 'She's alive. Drive safe,'" Heather Sizemore said.
"Longest 15 hours you can think of," Phillip Sizemore added, describing the drive to get to Primary Children's Hospital in Salt Lake where doctors would eventually have to amputate his 7-year-old daughter's leg below the knee.
Alissa Sizemore was playing with a group of other kids on May 6 when Naples police say she ran past a pair of garbage cans sitting at the curb and into the street near the intersection of 460 East and 1500 South.
The driver of a UPS truck approaching the stop sign at 460 East hit Alissa, coming to a stop with the truck's right front tire on the girl's right foot.
"Immediately, we knew that her foot was gone," Heather Sizemore recalled.
Alissa, who has taken dance lessons since she was 4 years old, was determined to return to the dance studio in spite of her injury. She still went through periods of self-doubt and issues with body image, her mom said.
"A lot of it was, 'I'm not me anymore,'" Heather Sizemore said. "I told her, 'You're still you. A prosthetic or a (lost) leg doesn't change who you are. You're still Alissa.'"
Before being fitted with a prosthetic, Alissa heard the Colbie Caillat ballad "Try." The song, with lyrics that emphasize finding beauty in oneself despite physical imperfections, resonated with Alissa.
"It's a song that I found when my mom and dad first saw me dancing without my leg," said Alissa, who decided to dance her first solo at Powerhouse Dance Studio's recital this past weekend.
"I went to the dance teachers and I said, 'I want (the solo routine) to be her,'" Heather Sizemore said. "Show her — with or without the leg — she can still dance. They took my idea, the concept, and did a beautiful choreography for her."
So there Alissa stood Saturday, alone on the floor in front of a gym filled with friends and family who didn't know what they were about to see.
"It just seemed like it would it would be really nice to show me without my leg," Alissa said, describing the point in her routine where she removed her prosthesis and danced without it during the second half of the song.
"I knew things were going to change in a big way," Phillip Sizemore said, "but I didn't think she'd come to this point this fast."
Alissa, now 8 years old, worked with Taunia Wheeler, Havana Lambert and Dena Cloward to get back into form for the weekend's solo and group performances. Wheeler, the director of Powerhouse Dance Studio, described Alissa as "probably one of the most courageous human beings I've ever met."
"Nothing will keep that little girl down. She is a light to everybody," Wheeler said. "I get so emotional when I look at her and consider the battle that was hers in the past nine months, going from no leg to a prosthesis to dancing in a matter of months."
Heather Sizemore said her only goal for Alissa this year was to get her back into dancing simply for the pleasure of it.
"The fact that she was able to get out there in front of everybody on Saturday was just overwhelming," she said. "I know I've got a pretty strong little girl. She's been everybody's strength, letting everybody know that she was still going to dance."
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, Twitter: GeoffLiesik