From Scrubs to Ballgown: How One Michigan Anesthesiologist Learned to Love Dancing

When Kathy Schlecht’s family and friends saw her in full hair and makeup, dressed in a resplendent gown, they thought she looked beautiful, if not entirely like herself.

“I’m in scrubs most of the time,” she explained.

The unusual amount of glamorous prep time and consequent riffing she received from her family was worth it to benefit a worthy cause. Schlecht, an anesthesiologist at Beaumont Hospital, glided across the dance floor as part of a local Dancing With the Stars event.  She competed against other local “celebrities” as a way to raise funds for Faith in Action of Oakland County, an organization dedicated to helping seniors and others with barriers to independence remain in their own homes.

Contestants were each tasked with learning their specific dance in only 20 half-hour sessions at a local Arthur Murray dance studio. Schlecht was asked to perform a swing-style dance routine with her partner to “Dance With Me Tonight” by Olly Murs. After her first lesson, she was hooked.

“I was at the gas station pumping gas and I was doing the steps,” she said. “It obsesses you.”

Schlecht’s online profile for the competition provides some insight into the level of pressure she was feeling leading up to her dance debut.

“My confession is that my only dance training (if you can call it that) was working out in my family room to Jane Fonda’s “High Impact Aerobic Dance” video so that I could fit into my wedding dress 28 years ago! My two left feet turned into cold feet when I discovered that the other competitors are REAL celebrities and REAL dancers,” she wrote for Faith In Action’s website.

“I’ve never danced before,” she said. “I’m not a dancer.”

Schlecht put aside her pride and reservations and dove in for the cause. She ended up winning the People’s Choice award online, raising the most money for Faith in Action along the way. She also discovered a real love for dancing and its stress-relieving properties.

“Every worry you have is gone for the day. You can’t focus on it because you’re concentrating (on the steps),” she said.

As for putting her newfound dance moves into action in front of a huge crowd, Schlecht said the hoopla was a bit overwhelming, but that she really did have the time of her life, all apologies to Dirty Dancing fans.

Kathy Schlecht lights it up on the dance floor.
Kathy Schlecht lights it up on the dance floor.

“It turned out to be an incredibly moving experience,” she said. “It was one of the best days of my life to be surrounded by so many friends.”

“Every time you open yourself up to a new experience, the world smiles with you and carries you along and you grow,” she said.

As for Faith in Action, the money raised at the event will help the organization provide vital services for seniors and others they serve such as transportation to medical appointments and other destinations, shopping, errands, household chores, yard work, and more. Volunteers are also relied upon to offer respite for family caregivers, assistance with personal record keeping, telephone reassurance calls, visits and friendly check-ins, minor home repairs, and help with exercise.

Learn more about volunteer opportunities at Faith in Action. If you’d like to support their work, the organization will host their 4th annual Wild Winter Strolling Appetizer Benefit from 6 to 10 p.m. on March 20, 2015 at the Bogie Lake Greenhouse in White Lake. For tickets, call 248-820-3767.

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Photo credit: Faith in Action of Oakland County

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