ST. LOUIS, MO (KPLR) – He’s a one legged tap dancer with a lot of sole; Who has side-stepped his way around cancer to inspire others. But, learning to tap dance was no small feet for Evan Ruggerio. He studied dance his whole life, but everything changed at 19 when he was a musical theater major. He was handed a blow when doctors discovered bone cancer.
“I said to my doctor right before he left the room he told me he would have to amputate my right leg. I said to him, I promise you I’m going to tap dance again.” said Evan Ruggiero.
His inspiration is tap dancer Peg Leg Bates.
“The sound of it it’s just so different. I can make different accents that other tap dancers can’t make. And when I’m dancing with someone else it really sounds cool.” said Evan Ruggiero.
Now, Ruggiero and Professor Robert L. Reed do some riffle, slap, paddle and row at Cardinal Glennon Children`s Medical Center.
“When you have someone who is like this, about the world spirit and about overcoming hardships and stuff. He’s like the poster child.” said St. Louis Tap Festival Founder Prof. Robert L Reed.
“I’ve had the mouth sores I’ve had hair loss I’ve had the nausea and vomiting. To be out there and to talk to them. To let them know you were going to get better you are going to live, you can beat cancer.” said Evan Ruggiero.
Sometimes the best way to do so is with a brush, stamp and stomp to a different drumbeat.
You can see Evan in action this Saturday night July 28th at 7pm. He’ll be heal toe stepping and tapping as part of “All That Tap 21″ at the Touhill. Tickets are still available.