BY MEGAN TAYLOR
For many people, passions are discovered at an early age and continue to grow throughout their lives. For some people, those passions became such a big part of their life that they evolve into a career. This is exactly what happened with Triad resident and dance instructor Pat Adkins.
“My dad, a World War II veteran with wooden legs, loved to dance and sing. When I was little, I would always dance on top of his wooden legs. He spoiled me so much and was my idol,” stated Adkins. “In 1965, I was a ballroom instructor at the Fred Astaire Dance Studio. Then I got married and had children. Once my children were older, I asked my husband if I could go back and teach.”
Upon hearing this suggestion, the only thing her husband asked was, “Can you make any money?” For Pat Adkins, the answer was “Yes,” and the rest is history. Adkins is known throughout the county as a well-known dance instructor. She has taught classes in a range of dance styles in Winston-Salem, Greensboro, Virginia, and other areas of Forsyth, Stokes, and Surry counties for the past 33 years. Now in her 70s, Adkins doesn’t let anything stop her from her love of dancing and teaching others is her passion.
“In 1994, I taught line dancing in King. Two years later, I wanted more, so I went to work for the Winston-Salem Recreation and Parks and Forsyth Tech as a senior line instructor.”
Adkins has been given many nicknames throughout the years, including “The Energizer Bunny” and has exemplified that nickname many times. While working at Winston-Salem Recreation and Parks and Forsyth Tech, she was also working at Hanes Hosiery and beginning a catering company. After retiring from the corporate world, Adkins’ dance schedule increased, as well as her geographical area for her classes.
“I learned and taught clogging, ballroom, Zumba, shag, country two-step, country waltz, country triple-step, partner cha-cha, baton, and many others in Greensboro, Forsyth, Stokes, and Surry counties, and in Virginia. At one time, I was traveling 520 miles a week and leading 35 classes.”
After losing her husband, her son told Adkins she had to slow down. Now, she still has a full schedule, but only teaches 18 classes a week with students between the ages of seven and 92.
Still Dancing During Challenging Times
Life took a turn during a span of three years. During this time, Adkins’ husband passed away, she moved out of her house and was diagnosed with cancer. While teaching dance on a cruise in 2016, she noticed she wasn’t feeling well and went to the doctor once back home.
“They did a chest x-ray and found a mass that covered my whole right lung. In November 2016, I had rotator cuff surgery and then on March 17, 2017, I had surgery that removed my right lung. My doctor said the surgery for the rotator cuff was my warning sign for lung cancer. I chose no chemotherapy because God told me not to, and I thought my dancing days were over. But I did 30 days of radiation treatment, full power. I cried, gave up, and got mad.”
However, cancer didn’t stop her from dancing and has allowed her to inspire others to persevere through challenges.
“I’m still here. I have been through too much to give up 30 years of what God gifted me with dancing. I have been through 18 surgeries just to continue and with a ton of supporters. I can’t tell you how many people I have been blessed with meeting and sharing my passion. I ran into a friend who is a preacher and he said I should be a preacher just to show others how much faith I have in God.”
Looking ahead, Adkins’ plan is to continue dancing and inspiring others. According to Adkins, there is nothing better than the enjoyment of a person learning to dance as long as that person is having fun.
“I have never failed being able to teach a person how to dance. With my surgeries and experience, you continue to fix what breaks and know you have had help from above because all of my prayers have been answered. Recently, I spoke with a friend who had breast cancer and was in a great deal of pain. I told her about my experience and to please keep the faith. She knows the pain I have been through as well and responded with, ‘I am tough, and I’m not letting you beat me.’ When you love what you do and love God, you can accomplish anything.”