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In Memory: Dr. Irene May-Ling Hutchins

We lost a highly esteemed, accomplished doctor and a professional ballroom dancer this week. Marilyn (Winkie) Fordney will tell you more about this amazing woman and her extraordinary story. Marilyn Fordney wrote a tribute to honor her dear friend. The Fordney Foundation is also giving Dr. Irene May-Ling Hutchins a memorial brick in our Yellow Brick Road.

Dr. Irene May-Ling Hutchins, Woman of the Year, Photo by Alex Havasi

Marilyn Fordney and May-Ling at Sofitel Event, Photo Source: Alex Havasi

This is the story of a gifted talented young lady who I met about 20 years ago in the world of ballroom dance. Her name around the dance world was May-Ling Hutchins and she was a student of Stephen Krauel. From time to time when I was competing in pro-am, I would see her compete with her instructor. One could tell she had ballet training and she was truly gifted and talented in dance in both movement and body form. Eventually, I met her mother, Margaret, at one of the competitions and subsequently retained a friendship over the years. Eventually May-Ling was approached by a professional dancer, Gleb Makarov and she began competing as a professional dancer. When this occurred, I was with Margaret in Florida at a competition and she began to cry stating it was her hope that her daughter would finish medical school and become a doctor. At that time, I told her not to worry that May-Ling would become a physician.

Grande Finale Celebration – Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, Photo by Alex Havasi

Then, a few years passed and I received a telephone call from Margaret saying that May-Ling had been in a terrible automobile accident and had fractured her leg. Luckily, this healed with very little after effects and she resumed her professional career. However, this was short lived because another telephone call informed me that she was coming home and would enter the University of California, Davis. When May-Ling graduated from medical school, my husband and I were invited to attend the celebration in Sacramento so we drove there for that momentous occasion. At the time, I asked her if she was going to specialize and she said yes, and eventually she became an oncologist with an assignment in La Jolla, California.

One day she was assigned to a patient, Steve Valentine, who had a serious cancer condition and she began treating him. He seemed to be responding to the treatment so she read more thoroughly his chart and discovered he was a professional ballroom dancer, magician, and actor. Of course, this peaked her interest so she told him that she also was a professional ballroom dancer and that if he got well that she would dance with him as a celebration of his recovery. That day arrived and they decided to work with the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society to help raise funds through dance to fight these cancerous diseases. My husband and I attended the launch event in Beverly Hills where we got to see May-Ling and Steve dance together. We attended the grand finale gala event in San Diego where we discovered that together they had raised $242,000 in her campaign and she was awarded and named Woman of the Year. May-Ling was a competitor, an overachiever, goal oriented, and had a brilliant mind.

My husband, Alex Havasi, joins me in condolences to the Hutchins family from the Fordney Foundation and we are ever grateful that our paths crossed with this truly beautiful individual both inside and out.

Elisabeth Rohm, Steve Valentine, May-Ling Hutchins, Marilyn Fordney, Photo Source: Alex Havasi

**We have received contributions from individuals who would like to have a dear relative or friend who passed on remembered that loved to dance or was a dance aficionado. We call these memorial contributions. Perhaps you would like to have someone memorialized in this manner. Make a donation and give us their name. We have on our website a yellow brick road to engrave their name to a brick as a memorial to that person. This contribution will assist future generations of dancers and help keep young people more positive and healthy.

Thought Of The Week:

To live in hearts we leave behind is not to die – Thomas Campbell

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Shane Meuwissen is the Media Specialist for Fordney Foundation.  He is a former dance instructor who know works with his company Slow Motion Dance Videos capture the beauty of dancing. If you would like to learn more about Shane and his video work, visit his website

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