Loren Walton, a longtime ballet dancer at the Salt Lake City company Ballet West, said he feared his dancing days were over after he was hospitalized with a serious intestinal issue last fall.
But through hard work and perseverance, he returned to performing months later. During his recovery, Walton not only wowed audiences but also his fellow performers.
"Once I started telling myself 'Even those little victories are big victories,' and using those to continue to just tread forward and keep fighting, [it] definitely brought me as far as it did," Walton told "GMA 3."
Doctors diagnosed Walton with a small bowel volvulus, and sepsis in September 2022, giving him a 10% chance of living, according to his mother Lesia Hunter. Hunter said he lost 50 pounds after surgeries, where doctors removed six feet of small intestines.
"One day, I was continuing to just live the dream that I had, and then the next day it just seemed like my whole world had turned upside down," Walton told "GMA 3."
But the dancer said he still had the drive that he's had since he was a child and pushed himself to get back on the stage.
Walton was in his first production in January but had a small bowel perforation and had to have another surgery.
Walton said he kept performing where he could even though he was in and out of surgeries as doctors tried to diagnose and repair complications that kept bringing him back to the emergency room.
"Each time he would go back into surgery, he'd come back to rehearsal," Jazz Khai Bynum, a fellow Ballet West artist told "GMA 3." "[He kept] lifting people, [he kept] dancing beautifully, [and] might I add, it's incredible."
In May, doctors found a leakage in his intestines that was at the site of the original surgery, and Walton said he's been doing better.
"I'm just focusing all my energy on what I do have and the blessings that I have been given, and I’m doing things now that I never thought I’d be able to do again," he said.