Parkville Couple Dancing To End Alzheimer's

Daniel Hamm and Heather Roberts will compete in ballroom dancing at this year's Alzheimer's Foundation Memory Ball in an effort to raise funds and cure the disease.

After taking dance lessons for more than a year, one Parkville couple is just a few short weeks away from their public debut—Heather Roberts and Daniel Hamm will show off their moves at an upcoming gala for a good cause.

The couple, who met at in Towson where they work, decided to participate in a dance contest at this year's Alzheimer's Association Memory Ball in April.

Roberts, the off-hours administrative manager at the facility, explained how she and Hamm got involved in the upcoming dance competition.

"Genesis is a huge supporter of the Alzheimer's Association," Roberts said. "All the centers raise funds for them, and last year Towson raised the most—we were given tickets to last year's Memory Ball."

"When our co-workers saw what a great dancer Mr. Hamm is," Roberts said. "...two other people from our company asked 'why don't you guys represent us next year in the dance contest.'"

That was last April and ever since then the couple has been taking lessons with Sean Climber of Georgia Boy Dance at Circle of Friends Dance Studio in Pikesville. Now they're feeling pretty good about their chances.

"We started taking lessons last spring, before they had even confirmed us as participants," Roberts said. "A lot of the folks [dancing in this year's contest] didn’t hook up with instructors until January. We may not be the best, but we’ll be the most rehearsed."

Hamm and Daniels will perform a cha-cha routine in front of a group of celebrity judges including renowned surgeon Dr. Ben Carson, and Maryland's first lady Katie O'Malley.

"Daniel’s a great natural dancer—we used to go out dancing socially, mostly to  old school R&B music. This was a first attempt for both of us to do any kind of structured dance," Roberts said.

Originally, they had planned to dance to The Bar-Kays "Holy Ghost," but Hamm said they recently changed their routine.

"We just felt we'd outgrown the song, it was too slow for us," he said.

The new plan? Cha-cha to Nelly's "Hot In Here"—a song well-known in Baltimore because it's the song that Baltimore Raven Ray Lewis walks onto the field at M&T Bank Stadium to.

Not that they chose the song for that reason.

"We had no idea," Roberts said. "I picked the song after I walked into a resident's room here and they were listening to it; I started to cha-cha to it, and I thought 'hey, this is a great song'," she said.

As the April 14 date of the gala approaches, the couple is excited to compete but more excited to do their part to help end Alzheimer's Disease. So far they've raised $3,600 for the Alzheimer's Association and they're looking to step up fundraising in the next few weeks.

To donate to the Alzheimer's Association as part of Roberts' and Hamm's fundraiser, click here.

Curing the disease is very important to the couple—Hamm said that he lost his grandmother to Alzheimer's and Roberts' grandmother suffered from dementia, although it was never diagnosed as Alzheimer's.

"We meet a lot of patients and families who are dealing with the effects of the disease. You meet them in various stages, it’s a heartbreaking struggle they go through, between the loss of dignity and the physical function loss," Roberts said. 

"I think it's a very cruel disease—the cruelest one. There's no treatment, no way to prevent it, no way to slow it down. The cruelest thing is that it steals your memories."

Correction: This article has been edited to reflect the correct date of the Memory Ball, April 14. An earlier version misreported the date as April 12. Patch regrets the error.


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