Allow the story of Marty Daniels to bring a little light, and probably a few tears, to your day. The 78-year-old war veteran has been dancing for over 60 years. His partner on the floor, his wife, Mariah, passed away after a second bout with breast cancer three months ago. Daniels told filmmaker Michael Lei that he began ballroom dancing because of her.
"She pulled me on to the dance floor; dragged me out of my shell," the Korean War vet said. "I've been dancing ever since."
Daniels proposed to Mariah before he was deployed for duty. The couple promised each other that they would learn the Viennese waltz for their first dance as husband and wife. Despite the distance between them, they both practiced the dance alone.
"Every moment when there was a little peace and quiet, I would run through my steps and my rhythm," Daniels recalled. "This was a source of great amusement to the other guys. They never let me hear the last of it."
But to the man who has since been waltzing across dance floors for over six decades, it was worth it. Now, Daniels looks to continue on in his wife's memory by honoring a bucket list that they created years ago.
"We were going to make a tour of South America, kind of a dance tour," he said. "We would do the tango in Argentina and the samba in Rio and the cha-cha in the Dominican Republic."
Daniels didn't specify if he will travel alone or with their daughter, but he did say that his wife is still a big part of the trip.
"Life seems to be a series of opening another door when one is closed on you," he said. "She's … I guess dragging me on to the dance floor again."