Dr. Nick Smith of Columbus Foot and Ankle is going to be strapping on his dancing shoes at this year’s Dancing Stars of Columbus.
Dancing Stars is an event where professional dancers pair up with local celebrity dancers to compete for the trophy, all while raising awareness of the disease and money for the Alzheimer’s Association.
This will be Nick’s first time participating in the event or being involved with the Association, but he is excited about the opportunity as the disease hits close to home. His great aunt Sally was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2013 at the age of 71, and passed away last year.
“I was 30 when she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and it was around the time that my wife and I found out that we were expecting our daughter Audrey,” Nick said. “At Audrey’s baby shower in 2013, we noticed that the remarkably insightful conversations and humorous comments were now being exchanged for confused glances and misplaced comments that were out of context.”
Sally had never had children, and thus treated her nephews, Nick’s dad and uncle, as her own children, and Nick, his siblings, and his cousins as her grandchildren.
“Previously Sally had been a remarkable and independent woman who had never had children and had lived on her own for more than 30 years. She was an incredibly analytical person who we always delighted in spending time with. She was always a constant at our holidays.”
When she was diagnosed, the family realized she wouldn’t be able to keep making the drive to and from her home in Dothan, Alabama so they began picking her up and driving her instead. During her visits, they could tell her mind had changed.
“The conversation was never the same as it had been,” Nick said. “She was very forgetful of things that we had previously discussed at each visit in great detail and she did a great job playing it off for as long as she could.”
Nick said that Sally realized what was happening, too, and made the necessary precautions to protect herself and her family as she knew she soon might not be able to.
“Due to her analytical and brilliant nature, she soon realized what was occurring and took a selfless act in ensuring that her estate and wishes were in order, prior to reaching a point where she could not make the decisions on her own,” Nick said. “At the time of making surrogate decisions for her, she had already outlined her wishes and had her affairs so organized that it made my family appreciate her selfless love even more than before.”
It was not all sad memories for Nick and his family, though. He got plenty of opportunities to spend quality time with her and experience the brilliant personality she was known and loved for.
“My favorite memory of Sally was when the four of her ‘grandchildren’ stayed a week with her in Dothan,” Nick said. “She had never had even one of us overnight at her home in Dothan and she agreed to take myself, my brother and two cousins for a week. She was so excited to have us all to herself for a full week and took us to countless movies, activities, meals, and spent time loving us.”
Nick is grateful to have the opportunity to honor her by dancing as a celebrity dancer in Columbus’ Dancing Stars competition. As a native resident, Nick is excited to represent his community as well.
“I am excited to be a participant in Dancing Stars this year for the opportunity to participate in a fundraiser for an amazing cause,” he said. “The community of Columbus embraces this event and is a wonderful night of raising funds and awareness for a disease that impacts nearly everyone at some point in life.”
More than just an opportunity to help a cause dear to his heart, the Dancing Stars event will be a learning curve as well.
“This has been and will continue to be a true challenge for me as I have no previous history of dancing and dance lessons,” Nick said. “I look forward to the challenge.”
Nick also hopes this shows his children, and others, the importance of donating your time and energy to help a cause that means so much to so many people.
“This is a great opportunity to participate in an event bigger than one’s self and allows me to teach my children the importance of selfless giving of one’s time, energy, money, and effort,” Nick said.
You can see Nick and many others dance for the People’s and Judge’s Choice awards at the Dancing Stars event on April 5, 2019 at the Columbus Convention and Trade Center.
To learn more about how you can help Nick and the other Star dancers raise more money for the Alzheimer’s Association, visit Dancing Stars of Columbus.