A near-lifelong dedication to dance and performing took a backseat when Lauren Stewart pursued a career in motorsports marketing.
“I really just missed the excitement you get right before a performance,” the rookie hopeful said. “Being around racing working in motorsports when my driver would win or when my team would win it was that level of excitement like being in front of people and that adrenaline rush you get. I started dancing at two and a half at my hometown studio in Illinois and all my best friends were at dance. I danced until I was 18 years old through high school. I was on my high school dance team. I was a captain my junior and senior year. So I have always loved dancing, always loved performing.”
Her focus shifted to a competitive career in racing as well as a relationship.
“I came to Indiana for a career in motorsports. A boy kind of helped that career in motorsports so kind of followed a boy, a race car driver, but I forged my own path in motorsports.” Lauren explained. “I worked with IndyCar teams. I worked with USAC and Sprint Car and Midget teams. And then life happened and I woke up one day and wanted a change and went back to school for nursing and here I am trying out for Colts Cheerleaders something I have always wanted to do but never had the courage to do it.”
That boy was IndyCar driver Bryan Clauson, a Noblesville native who was a fan favorite and enjoyed success in multiple disciplines of motorsports.
“I went on one date with Bryan, it was actually a set up one of our mutual friends hooked us up. That was back in January 2011. Bryan finally proposed on Easter in 2016 after we’d been dating for a little over five years. As most people know Bryan was tragically killed in a racing accident in August of 2016 before our wedding day which was obviously the hardest thing. I was an almost widow at the age of 24 and, like I said, life happened and I was lost. My life was totally turned upside down the future I thought I’d have disappeared and the one thing that I am most proud of in my 26 years is that I didn’t let loss and grief keep me down and here I am doing something I never would have thought I would have done. I definitely channel my inner Bryan every day and he’s on my mind every time I walk onto the field for practice, every time we start to dance, every time the music starts. Bryan, his life was ended too short and his dreams were taken away and I’m going to live my dreams out for the both of us.”
Living out those dreams meant not only rekindling her love for dance but also discovering a new professional purpose. Lauren formed a strong friendship with the nurses at Bryan Trauma Center following her fiancé’s accident. Her relationship with one nurse in particular would not only bring her comfort but also guidance.
“I knew that I wanted to step away from racing at least for a little bit and I was really lost on where to go next, and Sandy said, ‘why don’t you try nursing? I think you would be great you’re really compassionate, you’ve handled the worst of the worst, you seem like you love people,’ and I was like, ‘you know what that`s a good idea.’ So nurse Sandy from Bryan Trauma Center in Lincoln, Nebraska is 100% my inspiration behind going to school. Sandy made our time in the hospital bearable and she made it as positive and as good of a situation as it could be and that`s my inspiration for wanting to be a nurse.”
Nurse Sandy Lauren’s inspiration and Bryan's memory are her motivation.
“Right now, I tell myself that he`s saying `L, I`m really proud of you, you`re doing great, keep up the good work.’ It is nice to be that confident in what our relationship was to be able to have that connection even though he`s gone. Bryan taught me how to love with a full heart and he taught me how to live life every single day the best way you can so that really has brought me to where I am. When I was faced with the loss of Bryan, I quickly realized the only choice I had was to go on. I was 24-years-old, it was about a year and a half ago and here I am trying out for the colts cheerleaders, I`m back in school for nursing, I just got a job at a hospital and I have all these crazy awesome things going on in life and it was quickly realized that I could either keep going and just build myself up and be the toughest person I know and that`s what I chose to do.”