By Chanda Temple
Is there crying in ballroom dancing? There is if it involves Noah Galloway.
The veteran combat soldier and double amputee from Birmingham, Ala. had me in tears after I watched him dance his heart out on ABC’s 20th season opener of “Dancing with the Stars” tonight.
Galloway lost his left leg and his left arm in a roadside blast during his second tour of duty in Iraq in 2005. The incident left him bitter. But in 2010, he decided to become better. He stopped easing his pain with alcohol and junk food and turned to the gym.
He worked out. He got stronger. And he ran marathons. His “can-do” attitude motivated others to stop complaining and to make changes. They embraced his mantra: #NoExcuses. In 2014, he competed in Men’s Health Magazine’s Ultimate Guy Search contest. He beat out 1,300 men and landed on the November 2014 cover. Now he’s a contestant on “Dancing with the Stars.”
Before his dance routine started tonight, he said on television: “… what I’m lacking in limbs, I will make up in hard work and determination.”
And that he did.
As One Republic’s “I Lived” played, Galloway performed the cha cha with dance partner Sharna Burgess. He dipped Burgess with one hand. He swiveled his hips. He kicked up his prothestic leg.
Like me, the crowd was moved. They gave him a standing ovation.
The judges were impressed, too.
Judge Bruno Tonioli: “Noah! You are a titan among men. … You have a presence that is unique. … You are wonderful.”
Judge Carrie Ann Inaba: “And secondly, I want to thank you for challenging me as a judge. It was profound. And you are broadening my scope of what dance looks like. … Dance can be inspiring or it can be fun. And that was truly inspiring from your passion and your movement quality”
Judge Len Goodman: “To come out and dance like that is a major triumph.”
Galloway received a score of 26 out of 40. Viewers could vote via phone, online or Facebook. Results will be shared on Monday, March 23 at 7 p.m. CST. He’s one of 12 contestants, including Patti LaBelle, Suzanne Somers and Rumer Willis.
As a side note, Galloway’s song was perfect for him tonight. If you’ve never paid attention to the lyrics of “I Lived,’ check them out below.