Las Vegas Sun

November 28, 2014

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WHERE I STAND:

One of our own inspires the nation through dance

Local girl makes good. Make that great.

Yes, I am a “Dancing with the Stars” junkie. I love the show, I love the competition, I love the fact that lesser-known celebrities can become overnight sensations on the dance floor.

I have come to this point in my life because my dear wife, Myra, as I have previously shared, is the ultimate dance junkie and quite the ballroom dancer. It is a joyful pursuit of a sport that is both entertaining and healthful. If I could find a way to coordinate both of my left feet, I, too, would become a ballroom dancer.

Monday night and Tuesday of this week mark the finals of Season 18 of “DWTS” — a remarkable season, given the extraordinary dancing of Las Vegas native Amy Purdy.

Amy’s main competition, in my humble ballroom dancing opinion, is Olympic ice dancing gold medalist Meryl Davis, who is partnered with a very dear friend of ours, Maksim Chmerkovskiy. Together, Meryl and Maks make a brilliant couple and, I believe, they are a crowd favorite. Maks is certainly my favorite.

If Las Vegans rally their call-in voting behind Amy, there might be a stunning and well-deserved upset. Like Meryl, Amy Purdy is also an Olympic medal winner — a bronze in snowboarding at Sochi. Did I mention that she won her medal in the 2014 Paralympic Games? That’s right: Amy dances up a storm every Monday night on prosthetic legs.

There is no need to recount the incredible details of her young life here because the Las Vegas Sun’s Robin Leach did such an outstanding job last week introducing Amy to those who did not know her remarkable, miraculous, inspiring story.

What struck me most watching Amy dance May 12 was not her movements on the dance floor or the determination she brings to this competition, which is hard enough for people without disability to master. Audience members were mesmerized by her.

In the front row was a group of servicemen in their dress blues who were invited by “DWTS” to see the show. I couldn’t help thinking about so many other servicemen and women who don’t come home in one piece. Those who have lost an arm, or a leg, or both legs, or worse — young Americans whose lives have been turned upside down because they volunteered to fight for American security in some of the worst places on the planet.

These are people to whom we owe a lifetime of gratitude and support. We have trouble making good on that promise.

Amy Purdy didn’t lose her legs or her spleen or her kidneys in war, although fighting for her life was a battle against the most incredible odds. But there she was, doing what Olympians, athletes and lifelong dancers can do and in many respects, doing it better.

Life isn’t fair and it certainly isn’t perfect, but if there were a message communicated from Amy to those soldiers, and through them to the thousands of wounded who are trying to make new lives, it has to be that giving up is not an option.

Amy Purdy can dance. And she can inspire a country in need of some inspiration.

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