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Knoxville woman with MS has a prescription for ballroom dance

A Knoxville grandmother was diagnosed with MS almost 20 years ago, but her medicine is ballroom dance, and she gets a daily dose.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — A new study found that dancing is linked to improving your health. 

A Knoxville grandmother believes the study is true, wholeheartedly.

Mary Keen was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis almost 20 years ago, but for the last six years, her medicine has been ballroom dance.

They say dancing is like dreaming with your feet.

"You've got to have an open mind to move forward," Keen said.

Keen's dream, ever since she was diagnosed with MS, was to walk without a cane. That dream led her to the dance floor.

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"I came in with my cane and I thought uh oh… I'm not going to be able to do this," Keen explained. "They said 'yes you can!' You just lay this cane down right here and we're gonna start."

She was diagnosed with MS in 2000, unable to control her muscles. Six years ago, her doctor gave her a unique prescription for ballroom dance.

"Because if you're not positive, you're not going to get any better, so that's how I've journeyed with MS," Keen noted.

Drew Mcelyea has been Mary's instructor from the start.

Credit: WBIR

"And she started being able to walk, moving backward, I got her to be able to turn on her own, walk without a cane," Mcelyea explained.

Now, the ballroom is Mary's doctor's office, and each step is a dose of medicine.

"My doctor is so pleased with my activities and how much it has caused my MS to go into remission and so I just keep pushing forward," Keen talked of her ballroom dancing.

She's at the studio every day for hours and believes it's a turn in the right direction.

"She does whatever it takes to accomplish her goals," Mcelyea admitted.

Now, Mary and Drew travel all over the country to compete and never leave empty-handed. The awards Mary has won are countless.

Credit: WBIR

"Everyone at every competition knows Mary," Mcelyea blurted. "I swear the only reason anyone knows me is because of her."

And those dreams with her feet are coming true every day.

"So I'm not going to let it take over, and the main thing is to be positive about this," Keen explained.

Keen said she credits her progress to her faith and the supportive staff at Go Dance in Knoxville.

She said her doctor has started prescribing dance to her other patients because of Mary's success.

Keen encourages anyone and everyone to take ballroom lessons. She is a huge advocate for the sport and the studio.

To visit Go Dance or schedule a class, click here.

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