‘Dancing with the Stars’ contestant an inspiration
From surviving a roadside bomb in Iraq to making it to the finals on “Dancing with the Stars,” this double amputee Army veteran is an inspiration to all.
By Ben Norman
Several Sundays ago, I was eating lunch at the Old Barn Restaurant in Goshen, Alabama, when I noticed a real “cutie” smiling and waving at me across the dining room. Assuming she had mistaken me for someone else, I ignored her and continued eating.
A few minutes later, we made eye contact again and she was still waving and smiling. I finally recognized her as Jamie Boyd. My wife and I knew when her she was a young girl growing up in Highland Home, and now she is the fiancée of Noah Galloway, who was a finalist on last season’s “Dancing with the Stars.”
I walked over to give Jamie a hug and to meet Noah. After being introduced and chatting a few minutes, we finished our meal and adjourned to an old church pew on the front porch. “What in the world brings a pair of TV stars like you two to Goshen, Alabama?” was my first question.
“Jamie’s stepdad, W.L. Massey, had been telling us on the phone about this restaurant in Goshen, The Old Barn, that grows their own vegetables and serves them for Sunday lunch,” Noah said. “We drove down from Birmingham to give it a try. Man, this is some of the best food I’ve eaten. We’ll definitely be back.”
Like millions of other TV viewers, I had watched Noah and his partner dance on “Dancing With the Stars” and had heard about some of the adversities he had overcome. I told him I would like to interview him and do a story for Alabama Living. “Sure, ask me anything you want,” he replied.
Noah says he grew up and went to school in Midfield, near Birmingham. “I was going to school at UAB when (the events of) 9/11 occurred and I just felt I had to do my part. I was 20 years old, in good physical shape and just felt my country calling,” he says. “I joined the Army, finished basic (training), went to jump school and was in the 101st Airborne Division. I was on my second deployment to Iraq in an area near Baghdad when my Humvee hit a trip wire and an IED blew the Humvee I was in off the road. I lost my arm in the explosion, and my leg later. The medics gave me first aid and medevaced me to a hospital in Baghdad. I was then transferred to Germany and later to Walter Reed Hospital in Washington. That’s where I regained consciousness, on Christmas Day.”
Noah says the doctors told him he would be in the hospital about two years. “I said no way, and after numerous surgeries I started traveling on weekend leave back to Birmingham. In September 2006, less than a year from being hit, I was out of the hospital.
“I was discharged in November 2006, after five years in the Army. Being discharged was one of the hardest things I had to deal with. The first thing was losing an arm and leg, the second was losing a career that I had found a home in. I went through some bad times after discharge. I drank too much, got out of shape and just deteriorated physically and mentally. One day, I just decided I’m not being a good daddy to my three children and I’ve got to change.
“I joined the gym, started eating right, and started doing foot racing, running obstacle courses and other things to get in shape,” he continues. “People were great. They told me I was motivating them. They were bragging on me and this made me work harder.
“I did this for a couple of years and was invited to do a radio motivation show on Jan. 4, 2013. This is where I met the girl of my life. Jamie Boyd had a talk show on the same station. I had just never met such a lovely country girl that was so pretty and bubbly. I got her to go to lunch with me and finally on a date. We went to a friend’s house to watch television on our first date, and then out for dinner.
“She has just been a great inspiration to me. Always telling me what great expectations she has for me. Believe me, when someone has great expectations of you, and you try to live up to them, you will become what you are trying to be.”
Noah was selected as the winner out of more than 1,200 entries in the first Ultimate Men’s Health Guy contest to be on the cover of Men’s Health magazine.
“After I appeared in Men’s Health I started getting calls from TV shows. ‘Dancing with the Stars’ asked me to come to Los Angeles. I told them I couldn’t leave my kids that long. They said, ‘Fine, we’ll send a dancer to Birmingham to teach you how to dance.’
“Sharna Burgess came to Birmingham and taught me how to dance. She did all the choreographing, selected music, and Sharna remained my dance partner all through the ‘Dancing with the Stars’ contest. Sharna and Jamie kept encouraging me; both were great motivators. I thought we would be out after the first show but we made it all the way to the finals. This is when I asked Jamie to marry me on the show. It was a complete surprise to Jamie and even to some of the ‘Dancing with the Stars’ staff.
“Being on ‘Dancing with the Stars’ has opened a lot of doors, for which I’m greatly honored,” he adds. “Because of my appearance on ‘Dancing with the Stars,’ I have been asked to be on several television shows, award presentations, and invited to speak to many groups.”
Noah Galloway is a humble man, not spoiled by newfound fame. “I have found that working hard will get you farther than you ever expected to go,” he says. “Just dig down deep and give it everything you’ve got. You can overcome physical and emotional obstacles that you didn’t think you could.”
Noah Galloway should know. He went from lying unconscious in a water-filled ditch in Iraq to dancing on a national television show. As he says, “You just got to dig down deep.”
Ben Norman is a writer from Highland Home, Ala.
Noah Galloway is available for speaking engagements. Contact him at noahgalloway.com
Watch Noah propose to Jamie |HERE|.