She Gave The Eternal Gift of DancePosted August 5, 2009, 9:42 am in GB Topics
Credit Bill Shafer
She was just 58. An athlete. A runner. A dancer. Apparently, the beginning of the end came just twelve weeks before.
A small spot on her uterus. A one-word diagnosis: cancer. A hysterectomy. Complications. Another surgery.
Growing up in Denver she was curious and competitive. She wanted to try it all, and more times than not, she didn’t just master new skills, she conquered them! She was the State Champion in the 100-yard dash and the State Champion in the uneven parallel bars. She lived life in the fast lane and drove her way to a National Championship in Quarter Midget Racing.
She’d rally, then fade. Fever, nausea. Something’s wrong. Intestines. More surgery.
Not recovering. Intensive care. Can’t eat. Oxygen level too low. More surgery.
After the pageant she was chosen to perform across Europe in the USO. The Miss America people invited her back to dance again the following year. They chose Cathy to crown the new Miss America. Other TV shows called, and she made many guest appearances. Dance. It was all about dance. Cathy was determined to spread her wings, shine as bright as she could, and dance. It was like a dream! She put together her own nightclub act. Las Vegas came calling! Performing was intoxicating, but eventually, she felt something was missing.
It’s getting worse. Feeding tubes. Bedridden. Surgery. Improvement. Turned the corner? Tubes out. IV out. Short walks. Food, her first in weeks. Home.
She realized as much as she loved dance, there was another passion burning in her heart. Cathy wanted to teach. She moved to Orlando in 1980 and opened the Showtime Dance Studio. She built it, and they came! Soon after, Showtime became the largest children’s dance school in the country. She stood out because the lessons she taught went far beyond dance. She taught life. Confidence, discipline, poise, health and nutrition. Cathy knew she could teach children to conquer life’s greatest disability, fear. It was a magical combination. Her students competed in many national dance competitions. One group won the $100,000 dollar grand prize on national television, on Ed McMahon’s Star Search.
Didn’t even make it through the day. Vomiting. Fever. Dehydration. Vomiting. Back to the hospital. Back on the IV. More nausea. Tests. Tests. Tests. Biopsy. Cancer has spread. Cancer in the liver. Weak. No visitors allowed.
Cathy was on top of the world! A success beyond her wildest dreams. She was married and all set to welcome a new baby into the world. Then, the unthinkable. There were complications. Her baby son did not survive. But Cathy was not a quitter. Two years later, she was set to welcome another boy into the world. He, too, was born with life threatening issues. She was terrified, unsure whether to attach herself emotionally. Did she have the strength to survive another loss? Just then, something changed. Faith began to bloom inside her. Love began to overwhelm her fear. Thanks to her doctors, the hospital staff and her new found strength, Billy survived. Not just survived, he thrived! And Cathy had discovered a brand new purpose. She would teach of her experiences. She would use them to inspire her dance students to apply their talents to make a difference in the lives of others. She joined the board of directors of the Orlando Health Foundation and became a tireless fundraiser. Through the students at her Showtime Dance Studios she established Kick for K.A.R.E., and taught everyone that Kids Are the Responsibility of Everyone. Through their efforts, fundraisers and performances they raised over a million dollars for the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women and Children. Cathy could not have been more proud.
Chemo. Getting weaker. Holding on to faith. Fearing the worst. Rebound? Sent home! Back two days later. Trying to hold on. Home yet again! Can’t do it. Hospital. Let go of the fear. Acceptance. Faith. Peace. Peace.
Cathy passed away on July 31, 2009.
“For a Dancer,” Jackson Browne
Into a dancer you have grown
From a seed somebody else has thrown
Go on ahead and throw some seeds of your own
And somewhere between the time you arrive
And the time you go
May lie a reason you were alive
But you’ll never know
Below: See video of Cathy at the neonatal center, with some of her dancers and with her son Bill at Showtime Dance Studio.
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