Being a “star” is a dream held by many children, perhaps even something we daydream about as adults at times, but being a “star” in this context is a status I never desired to have.
I join Dancing with the Michigan Stars as the mother to the most amazing Forever 5-year-old little boy, Tommy Ruddy, to raise DIPG research dollars as a ChadTough Partner Family and find a cure for the disease that stole our little boy on Nov. 3, 2016.
Tommy had a love of dancing. Every Sunday, we would have dance parties in our living room that would often involve props and costumes. Even when Tommy was sick, we had dance parties with his disco ball. It didn’t matter if it was 10am or 3am -- we were up and dancing after he took all his medicine successfully.
Despite our family’s love of dancing, doing so in front of a crowd of people is far out of my comfort zone, so when Tammi Carr asked me to do this, I was hesitant. But I know what my son, Tommy, did in fighting DIPG was a far greater challenge, so I couldn’t say no. I would do anything for him and for the children who have faced, or will one day face, this disease.
After my first meeting with my dance pro, Byron Doss, I knew I had made the right decision.
We met where he teaches, at The Social Dance Studio in Grand Rapids. He quickly saw just how inexperienced I was on the dance floor, but filled me with nothing but encouragement, fueling my drive even more. He saw that my style wasn’t formal, and certainly wasn’t to dance to a slow or sad song.
When Byron asked me, “How would you feel about dancing in Converse?” I knew Tommy had his hand in this, and that he was smiling from ear-to-ear about us dancing our hearts out -- in Converse -- to a hip hop beat.
Tommy is the reason I am dancing in this event. He is my drive and my inspiration. He had a zest and a love for life unlike any other 5-year-old child. We always joked that he beat to the sound of his own drum, despite what everyone else was doing.
That is why one of my life mottos is now, “dance like no one is watching,” because that is what Tommy did every single day, and that is what I will do at this event.