As we all know by now, America has a new favorite dancer: Jeanine Mason. But we’re learning this morning, Jeanine is much more than America’s Favorite Dancer…she’s also a survivor of a rare illness and the co-founder (and now major donor) of an Alzheimer’s Charity.

According to an exclusive interview with TV Guide Magazine, last year Jeanine was diagnosed with Pigmented Villondular Synovitis (PVNS) a rare diseases which creates inflammation in the joint linings. While the disease often attacks the knees, Jeanine’s first symptoms were in her left elbow, which she could not straighten. Over the past year and a half, Jeanine had two surgeries and radiation treatment to treat the illness, something she never discussed on air or during her time on So You Think You Can Dance.

That Jeanine never relied or attempted to garner support with an inspirational and sad story, unlike some other competitors makes me love her even more. Jeanine describes the health scare as “a jolt” and that it made her a stronger person and much more grateful.

If that, and her charming sense of humor weren’t enough to make us adore Jeanine. (Her line about thanking the Academy last night? Priceless.) She’s also decided to donate some of her $250,000 winnings to an Alzheimer Charity she started with her sister in the memory of her grandfather who died with the illness. 

How wonderful that not only a great dancer won last night, but as we’re learning, an amazing human being. Congrats to Jeanine!

Video Interviews with Jeanine:

From Hollywood

From GeekSugar:

–Abbey Simmons BuddyTV Staff Writer

(Image Courtesy of FOX/Source TV Guide Magazine)

Abbey Simmons

Contributing Writer, BuddyTV