Out in the cold during pandemic, 83-year-old dances her way back inside


HILLIARD, Ohio (WCMH) — A family that loves dancing refused to allow the pandemic or freezing temperatures to keep them away from tapping their feet.

In mid-February, you could have seen Scheila Sanderson, 83, on the outside of a dance studio looking inward while she tried to keep pace with the other dancers to the music blaring from the building.

This was not an initiation or disrespect. Instead, being outside was quite the opposite. Sanderson is in the “high risk” category of getting COVID-19, and her daughter Shelli Miller wanted her mom to be safe.

“The others felt that six feet and masks were enough,” said Shelli. “I felt like my mom was too precious to take that risk, and so outside was safer for us.”

Once they made their decision to take practice outside, the mother-daughter duo had another challenge. They had to find “flooring” to put on the sidewalk.

“You don’t say ‘no,’ to an 83-year-old lady”

They raced around Columbus looking for sub-flooring. From hardware store to hardware store, they couldn’t find what they needed. Finally, the Home Depot in Hilliard had exactly what they needed. The problem, the saw station was shut down so that the store could close in 10 minutes.

“We needed them to cut it and the saw was closed. My mom went up to the employee and gave them a little sad look and he opened the saw back up and cut the wood to the size we needed,” said Miller. “They would have told me, “no,” but you don’t say no to an 83-year-old lady.”

The family’s determination to keep dancing comes from their past. Miller danced, her daughters dance competitively, and Grammy danced when she was a youngster.

Miller knew the isolation was difficult for her mom, after all, it was difficult for everyone. This weekly practice was a big deal for Sanderson to get socialization.

“There were times she would sneak in to whisper or talk to somebody because she missed that connection,” Miller said as Sanderson rocked backward with a large grin.

Staying connected was a big deal for the family, and keeping Sanderson safe was the top priority.

“Everybody shutdown or did things to keep my mom’s generation safe,” said Miller. “Everything we did was hard on their socialness because they weren’t together.”

Getting to the dance recital practice, although cold, was the one time Sanderson was able to connect with others. She looked forward to it almost as a child would for their birthday.

“Today I can go out. Today I get to drive into town and dance in the cold,” said Sanderson with a chuckle.

Sanderson is now fully vaccinated and rejoined the group in May. She has had three practices since being an insider again.

On Friday, Sanderson and her dance team will perform a two and a half minute routine called “New Shoes.”

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