Television icon Valerie Harper has been the heart of season seventeen of Dancing with the Stars, providing a positive light for both the cast and viewers as she competed alongside pro partner Tristan McManus despite battling terminal cancer. With her elimination on Monday night’s show, her DWTS costars lament her exit but applaud her bravery.
“Valerie’s never one to complain,” says Karina Smirnoff. “The judges didn’t comment on it but when she was dancing tonight you could just feel the strength of a woman. It’s something you don’t see quite often, especially on national television. To be present in this particular situation is incredible, to be a witness to someone that great. We are going to miss Valerie but the good news is there is a reunion at the finale and usually as the season goes on and you lose more and more couples you look forward to that finale because then everybody gets back together.”
Corbin Bleu says Valerie provided a sense of balance to the cast.
“You really have all of these different personalities and Valerie is such a grounding one for all of us,” he explains. “She really pulled everybody together. I feel like Bill Engvall has that same vibe. To see him safe first was such a relief. To see Valerie go home, you know there’s going to be something missing next week.”
Nicole Polizzi, who had a rough week of her own trying to keep up her rehearsal schedule, mom duties and Snooki and JWoww promo responsibilities while feeling ill, says being around Valerie has taught her a very valuable lesson.
“She’s amazing,” says Nicole. “She makes me realize the good things in life. Don’t complain about stupid stuff. She’s the happiest person I’ve ever seen, even with what she’s going through. You could never tell. She never complains about it. She’s always so positive. She’s made me a better person.”
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