Man with rare disease that left him fully paralyzed surprises wife with a dance for 50th anniversary

"For mom and dad to dance as they've danced throughout their marriage is powerful. It says that their marriage is bigger than the condition he is fighting"
July 6, 2018 10:21 am Last Updated: July 6, 2018 10:21 am

Couples do a lot of things to celebrate their wedding anniversaries.

Some go out for fancy meals. Others gift each others lavish items. And some lucky ones get to go on expensive international trips.

Steve Parsley’s plan for his 50th wedding anniversary was simply to surprise his wife Nancy with a dance. While this might seem like a low-effort celebration compared to those prior examples, trust me when I say that it was anything but.

In 2014, Steve Parsley developed Guillain-Barre Syndrome, leaving him paralyzed.


Getting up to dance has been tough ever since Steve was diagnosed with Guillain-Barre Syndrome four years ago.

The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke defines Guillain-Barre as a “disorder in which the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks part of its peripheral nervous system.”

This disease left Steve fully paralyzed and he has had to stay in the hospital many times over the years, but now lives with Nancy at an assisted living facility in Florence, Kentucky.

The whole experience has been devastating for the couple, their two children, and their six grandchildren. That’s why, when Steve revealed his plan to surprise Nancy with a dance, their family knew that it’d be a moment they’d remember forever.

He wanted to dance with his wife Nancy for their 50th anniversary.


While Steve and Nancy were married in December, their 50th anniversary celebration had to be put on hold when Steve got sick.

“[Nancy] told me once that I had to get better because I had to dance with her at our 50th anniversary party and so that was the idea behind all of this,” Steve told WKRC.

So he fought to do just that. Gateway Rehabilitation Hospital provided him with physical therapy using a device called Next Step, a harness that lifts patients up to allow them to stand.

Come this Father’s Day weekend, he was finally ready to surprise his wife. Family members had driven out several hours just to witness this moment.

The dance they shared that day had a profound impact on the family.


When Nancy came into the room, Kenny Rogers’ “Through The Years” was playing and 70-year-old Steve was just standing there waiting for a dance.

“Just to stand up next him face to face, I was just blown over,” Nancy told WKRC. “We’ve danced together a number of times but the last four years it has been pretty much side by side, so it was like old times.”

The Parsley’s children, Tim and Becky, were incredibly impressed by their father’s heart-felt gesture and his ability to keep the plan a secret from their mother.

“For mom and dad to dance as they’ve danced throughout their marriage is powerful. It says that their marriage is bigger than the condition he is fighting,” Tim told WKRC.

“It just shows how incredibly romantic my dad is, even with what he is going through right now,” Becky added. “They are definitely an example of faith and love.”