Overton Brooks VA Medical Center
Shreveport area Veteran brings home the Gold
When Air Force Veteran George Williamson met his now wife Mary Carol nearly seven years ago, he knew within five minutes that this was the person he would spend the rest of his life with. The 82-year-old recounts the chance encounter with surprising recall.
“I was at a dance hosted by the Bossier City Council on Aging. Mary Carol was dancing with a gentleman that had a cane. I thought to myself, if she can dance with him, certainly she will agree to dance with me,” Williamson said. “I didn’t know it then but we had both laid our things down on the same chair and as we came off the dance floor, we ended up at the same place. I took a chance and asked her to dance. She said yes, and within five minutes, we both knew that we were meant to be together.”
Some might call it fate, some may say it was just luck, but whatever it was, the two have been inseparable since that night seven years ago, and dancing has become a major part of their new lives.
“Over the past seven years, we have competed in 25-30 dance competitions,” Williamson said. “Now realize, I’m not a dancer. Or I wasn’t,” he said with a laugh. “For a while there we were dancing three or four nights a week. It keeps us moving and it’s a great way to meet others that enjoy the same things we do.”
Dancing is not only a good way to stay youthful and healthy, the Williamsons are discovering, it’s also a way to travel and meet other talented Veterans. This past October, the two traveled to Buffalo, New York, courtesy of the Department of Veterans Affairs to attend the National Creative Arts Festival. The couple won the gold medal at local and regional competitions which qualified them to attend the national event.
“We’ve won the gold twice and silver three times in the National Veterans Creative Arts competition,” Williamson said with pride. “We like the competition and we really enjoy meeting Veterans from all over the country. I’ve met men I’ve been stationed with, and we’ve reconnected and caught up. I can’t say enough good things about this VA program.
The National Veterans Creative Arts Competition uses the creative arts as one form of rehabilitative treatment to help Veterans recover from and cope with physical and emotional disabilities. Across the country each year, Veterans enrolled at VA health care facilities compete in local creative arts competition. The competition includes 51 categories in the visual arts division that range from oil painting to leatherwork to paint-by-number kits. There are also categories in the performing arts pertaining to all aspects of music, dance, drama and creative writing.
For George and Mary Carol Williamson, the dancing continues.
“It’s not about competing,” Williamson said, “it’s more about us being able to do this together and spending time with our friends. Dancing has shaped our lives.”