Dance studio mourning death of 7-year-old student

 Funeral services will be held Saturday for Raniyah Simoons, who died last week. She was 7.

Funeral services will be held Saturday for Raniyah Simoons, who died last week. She was 7.

DOWNEY − The Downey Dance Center will pay tribute on Saturday to a 7-year-old student that died last Monday after suffering a severe asthma attack just moments before a dance competition. Raniyah Simmons of Compton was preparing to compete in her first dance contest on Jan. 25 when she began struggling for breath. She was quickly transported to Miller’s Children’s Hospital in Long Beach, but died after hours in a coma.

“It’s a sad and unfortunate thing,” said Belinda Lands, owner of Downey Dance Center. “The family is doing as best as can be.”

Last Thursday, nearly 300 people gathered at the dance studio, located at 12456 Bellflower Blvd., to honor Raniyah by wearing pink – her favorite color – and releasing balloons with personal messages on them.

“There were other dance studios here from as far as Miami,” said Lands. “Raniyah’s story has gone from east coast to west coast.”

“She was just too young to die,” said Lisette Garcia, whose 8-year-old daughter Isabelle dances at the center. “Some of the girls are taking it hard…I told my daughter God needed another angel.”

Garcia hopes the tragedy will bring awareness to the severity of asthma.

“My daughter has asthma. I thought I knew what to look for and I don’t,” Garcia said. “Parents are very concerned and are deciding whether they still want their kids to dance. We have to figure out how we prevent this from ever happening again.”

In order to help family with funeral expense, Lands set up an online fundraiser, which has already collected more than $17,400.

Raniyah’s funeral services will be held this Saturday at 11 a.m. in Compton at the United Methodist Church, located at 1025 S. Long Beach Blvd. Family and friends will gather immediately after for an internment service at Inglewood Park Cemetery.



Published: Feb. 5, 2015 - Volume 13 - Issue 43