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First Coast YOU: Maria Regla Valdes was meant to dance in Jacksonville

"Every time I dance, I feel like I'm dancing with my grandmother." -- Maria Regla Valdes Del Moral

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Name: Maria Regla Valdes Del Moral   

Age: 33   

Occupation: Dancer,  

Lives in: Mandarin, originally from Spain

Favorite thing about Jacksonville: Getting the feel of a big city and a small town at the same time.

"My grandmother was my biggest hero. That was definitely somebody that I always looked up to. Unfortunately, she passed away when I was 15, but I actually lived with her since I was 7 until she passed away. She was always very supportive of me with whatever I wanted to do. Whether it was school or dance or whatever. She was always very positive. Just very positive with good energy. To be honest, when I dance I always think she's watching me. I can remember her smile when I would dance, and she was just in love. Every time I dance, I feel like I'm dancing with my grandmother."

"I was 21 when I came to the states. I met my now ex-husband when I was really young in Spain. He was stationed in the military. We dated for four years and when I was 21, I came here. We got married. Unfortunately, it didn't work out, but that's OK. I am forever grateful for this opportunity, because never in a million years would I think I'd end up here. And I love it. It's been about two years now since I've been on my own here, I just love it. I created my life here."

First Coast YOU offers a glimpse into the people who make up our community. If you or someone you know has a story to tell, send an email to Erica Santiago esantiago@firstcoastnews.com or follow Erica on Twitter @erica_news.

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