From competitive dancing and celebrating world class achievements, to coaching Chaeli Sports and Recreation Club dancers, Damian did it all.
Cherishing Joy: Powerful Lessons from a Life Lost Too Soon
by Kirsten Steenkamp
How frequently do you take time out to celebrate your happiness? When you are surrounded by someone whose joy is contagious, do you find yourself enjoying your life more deeply? 20 March is the United Nations observance of International Day of Happiness, an uncommon prompt to reflect on that which makes us grateful for those we love and the crossed paths which brought us together.
Damian Michaels was one such gentleman whose beautiful soul affected everyone with whom he interacted. Damian was described by his loved ones as compassionate and kind. Gracing a warm and open heart, he was humble and took criticism with a smile. And with the power to be considered a family icon, he was truly a legend!
An angel who walked among us on Earth, a tragic accident left Damian’s loved ones having to imagine a life without him…
We celebrate his life through dance: a free spirit, dedicated teacher and friend to all. May our tribute bring healing to those who knew and loved him dearly.
In 2010, Damian Michaels was introduced to the Chaeli Sports and Recreation Club for the first time. An exuberant personality with a flair matched only by his bold and passionate dancing, Damian was handsome and chivalrous.
“Damian was many things, he was also a world champion dancer,” CEO of The Chaeli Campaign, Zelda Mycroft, voiced during Damian’s CSRC tribute celebration. After a couple of years dancing as Chaeli Mycroft’s partner in Latin American and Ballroom dance, the couple represented South Africa in annual Wheelchair Dancing competitions at the Holland Dans Spektakel in the Netherlands.
Damian and Chaeli’s friendship translated powerfully onto the dancefloor. Secured in their unfailing trust in one another, Damian became the first dancer to dip a motorised wheelchair in World Class competitions. Taken aback by their performances, the competing CSRC dancers – the only 4 from Africa – returned home with double gold in each of their respective categories in the amateur class!
Dancing as Chaeli’s partner for more than 9 incredible years – coaching wheelchair dance together every Sunday and competing throughout their time together – Chaeli trusted him with her whole self. “I feel so lucky to share the title with him and have had the time I did with him as my partner. He was truly one of the most exceptional people I’ve ever met. He exuded love wherever he went and that’s a quality and feeling I’m going to miss, but I’ll carry it with me for the rest of my life”.
A complete gift to the CSRC dance family, Damian had the power to connect with people. He was a caring teacher, giving everything to each person with whom he danced. Other people trusted and loved him instantly and he would always encourage dancers to try their best. Constantly pushing his students to try new things, Damian was ever ready to dance – any time, any day!
Truthfully, Damian worked hard at being happy. He felt intensely, yet knew how to find the joy in each moment. His infectious laugh and passion for others meant that he was always at the centre of excitement. Nevertheless, his stories lived through body movement and his joy for dance. Through sharing with others what he did best, he was able to be his true self.
A strong person with a gentle soul, Damian’s embodiment of joy will remain an inspiration for generations. Lighting up every room into which he walked, Damian’s impact – in the dance world, to his friends and family, and to the friends of the Chaeli Sports and Recreation Club – will be forever cherished. The legacy he created in his 27 years of life are a true testament to his love of dance, how much he cared for others and his commitment to happiness.
Perfect moments with you gave us heartwarming memories to cherish in your absence. May your soul rest in peace, beloved Damian Anthony Michaels.