Busting a move may not be in Barry Simon's typical daily routine, but this month, he's making an exception. The Datamax Inc. president is one of six well-known locals competing for the coveted Mirror Ball Trophy in Dancing With Our Stars, the signature event for the Arkansas chapter of the Children's Tumor Foundation.
Soirée caught up with Simon to chat about the upcoming dance-off and a deep commitment to community.
You've been involved with a long list of nonprofits over the years. How did you first touch base with CTF?
BS: I was first introduced to CTF through two friends of mine, Hubert Barksdale and Rick Fleetwood. Rick was one of the dancers for Dancing With Our Stars in the past. We went to watch him dance, and in doing so, I understood firsthand the great event and the great work that CTF is doing in the state of Arkansas.
Why is it important to you, both personally and professionally, to be involved with bettering the community?
BS: It has always been important to me personally, and to our company that we remain involved in the communities that we live and work in. It’s something we feel any business and every business should be a part of. Inside our Datamax Little Blue Book, one of our guiding philosophies is “to recognize and accept responsibility of being an involved corporate citizen in the community.” That means we need to be committed, and I personally need to be committed, to bettering all the communities that we are fortunate to serve.
What's one thing you wish readers knew about CTF?
BS: Children’s Tumor Foundation has a mission of driving research, expanding knowledge and advancing care for the NF community, which has a vision of one day ending NF.
Neurofibromatosis, or NF, is a genetic disorder that affects one in every 3,000 people across all populations equally. It causes tumors to grow on nerves throughout the body and can lead to deafness, blindness, disfigurement, bone abnormalities, disabling pain and cancer.
You say your closest brush with dance experience comes from a college Halloween party, so what made you say yes to Dancing With Our Stars?
BS: I would say first that dancing in front of a crowd like this definitely takes me out of my comfort zone. I’m certainly not a dancer by trade. However, after Hubert and Rick talked to me about being involved with Dancing With Our Stars, I brought it back to our company and to our managers, and they all said, “You’ve got to do it.” “One, we’d like to see you take on this task,” and “two, this is a great opportunity for our organization to live out our commitment to great causes like CTF.”
What is something you didn't expect to learn (but are glad you did) in the process of competing for the Mirror Ball Trophy?
BS: In working with Maddie (my dance instructor), I’ve learned that there’s a lot to this. I didn’t realize how clumsy I would be! But I’m very much looking forward to taking all that I’m learning and turning it into an actual dance. Win or lose, it’s all about supporting a great cause.
Past attendees know DWOS is a can't-miss event. For someone who's never been, can you explain why it's such a local favorite?
BS: It’s probably one of the few events where not only can you have fun and give to a great cause, you get to see people do things that they don’t do day in and day out. Many of us who are dancing are going way out of our comfort zone, and that’s exciting.
Any words of advice for your future self on Sept. 8?
BS: Don’t panic. You don’t do this for a living. But also remember this whole event is for fun and for a wonderful cause.