Margaret Nightingale is learning to tango.
And while she is just a beginner she’ll be stepping out on stage in front of a packed house to lend her newfound talents to the fourth annual Dancing with our Stars performance in support of funding research for aging brain health at Baycrest.
“I’m very nervous, it will be my first time performing in an event like this,” she says. “But I am also very excited to contribute to a great cause.”
The fun event will see Nightingale, who is a member of the Baycrest Foundation’s board, and her dance partner, professional Mikhail Zaslavskiy, compete for bragging rights against three other couples in front of a panel of judges.
She says the experience is reminding her how much she enjoys dancing.
“Working with [Zaslavskiy] has reinforced the fact that I like to dance, it makes me feel alive,” Nightingale says, who used to study ballet when she was younger. “I’m only happiest when I’m dancing.”
For Nightingale, the topic of brain health is a personal one as her late husband, Buddy, suffered a severe stroke that saw him lose feeling on the left side of his body.
“It changed all of our lives,” she says. “It was devastating to see a person who was as vibrant and happy as he was lose his personality.”
During his rehab, Buddy discovered music Nightingale says.
“His personality came out in his music,” she says. “He learned to play the piano well and it made him very happy.”
Following his death, Nightingale paid tribute to Buddy, who was a board member of the Baycrest Foundation for several years prior to his stroke, by helping to create a singing group of Baycrest patients called Buddy’s Glee Club.
“I’ve discovered that music is a great healer,” Nightingale says. “It’s great to see them light up as they sing,” she says.
All funds raised by the Dancing with our Stars event will go to support research into ways to try and prevent problems like dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease.
“If we can all stay healthy longer as we age, it will lead to a more comfortable life and lead to less burden on health care costs,” says Cheryl Grady, a senior scientist at Baycrest.
Nightingale says she is as focused on the opportunity to help further research on aging brain health as she is on the string of rehearsals and costume fittings that loom in preparation for the event.
“Everyday we learn something that helps other families” says the Bayview and York Mills area resident. “The more we learn about aging brain health, the better.”
The fourth annual Dancing with our Stars performance will be held at the Allstream Centre on March 7.
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