Nearly ten years ago, Noah Galloway was a sergeant in the 101st Airborne Division, serving his second tour in Iraq, when an IED exploded near his Humvee. Five days later, he awoke in a military hospital to learn that he was missing his left arm from above the elbow and his left leg from above the knee. After initially masking the pain by drinking, smoking and sleeping all day, Noah finally turned his life around by becoming a personal trainer and motivational speaker, who regularly runs 5K and 10K races, often dressed in a kilt.
The inspirational soldier tells Star in an exclusive interview that he is always willing to put himself to the test — and now that means learning how to dance.
Why did you want to be on DWTS?
I thought, “I don’t see why not!” I have no background in dancing, but I like to take on as many challenges that I can, especially with my injuries. It’s important for me to see what I can accomplish.
You are partnered with Sharna Burgess. How has she helped you?
If I do dance well, it’s all credited to Sharna. A lot of people bring up [former DWTS contestant and amputee] Amy Purdy. She is amazing, but I’m above the knee. Having a knee and having a prosthetic knee is very difference than what I’m working with. Sharna has adapted to that perfectly.
You are training in Alabama? Why?
I made it clear that I would not move out to Los Angeles. I didn’t want to be away from my children for too long. When they said Sharna would move out to Birmingham and I could fly back and forth, well, I said I could deal with that.
Who is the toughest competition?
I don’t think it’s fair to look at anyone else as competition because I still need to learn how to give a performance. The cast is amazing. The first day I really hit it off with Suzanne Somers and Robert Herjavec from Shark Tank.
Are your kids excited about seeing you perform on the show?
They are! My 7-year-old told me he was excited to get on there and dance. I was like, “Nope, this is more for me, not for you. But I like your enthusiasm.”
Was it hard to be active again after your injuries?
It was a struggle, definitely. It took me a couple of years to realize that I could do something with what I had left.
What might surprise people about you?
My girlfriend will sit down and watch Rambo, but I’d rather watch The Notebook. I like something that’ll make me cry.
What is your ultimate goal?
I want to be able to motivate others, whether they have a disability or not. I’ve had a lot of parents with children who are born with disabilities tell me that I have helped them. Being able to use this platform to spread my message is absolutely incredible.
For photos of Noah and his family, pick up the latest issue of Star, on newsstands now!