Patricia Yarberry Allen, M.D. is a Gynecologist, Director of the New York Menopause Center, Clinical Assistant Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Weill Cornell Medical College, and Assistant Attending Obstetrician and Gynecologist at New York-Presbyterian Hospital. She is a board certified fellow of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology. Dr. Allen is also a member of the Faculty Advisory Board and the Women’s Health Director of The Weill Cornell Community Clinic (WCCC). Dr. Allen was the recipient of the 2014 American Medical Women’s Association Presidential Award.

by Patricia Yarberry Allen, MD | bio

Peggy Byrne is one of the many women I know who makes me fearless about growing older. We have known each other for 25 years. She secretly admits that she is in her mid-70s. She usually lies shamelessly about her age, however, because “a girl has to work, and that ageism thing is a bitch.”

She has fabulous blond hair and perfect make-up. Think Betty Boop with attitude to spare.

Peg had always been great at her work, crunching numbers and keeping media types on budget and under control. It was a thankless job, but the boys she managed who carried titles of CEO of this and that never ever knew what hit them. She made them conform to the tasks at hand — and have fun — or they lost her. Most of them were too smart to lose her.

But Peg loves God, too, and in 2006 she left the corporate world when the opportunity arose to work as director of administration for her parish church in New York City. Such a lot of managing to do, but Peg was clearly called, as we say, for this mission. The church needed her help.

Not long after getting the parish organized, Peg’s personal trainer at the gym passed along some news. Cindy Adams of the New York Post had written in her column that the New Jersey Nets were adding a senior dance team to its roster of entertainment at basketball games. Anyone age 60 and older could audition.

Flattered that this young stud thought she could dance, Peg went to the audition at the Nets practice facility in East Rutherford, N.J., on Nov. 20, 2006.

To her surprise, television cameras were there. So was NPR. The judges included a Broadway choreographer, two of the Nets players, and, most exciting for Peg, Vince Curatola — Johnny Sack from “The Sopranos.”

The regular gorgeous dancers taught the aspiring senior dancers a hip-hop routine. Peggy was in a group of three dancers and loved auditioning. (Who could like auditioning?)

“We’ll call you in two weeks,” she was told. No fools, these guys, they called a week later and congratulated her for winning one of the dozen coveted spots.

“I was out of my mind with excitement,” recalls Peg. But, of course, she couldn’t tell anyone at the church, sure they would not appreciate their director of administration dancing for the New Jersey Nets.

The contract called for performing at six games during the Nets’ 2006-2007 season. The NETSational Seniors, as they were named, wore their ages, which ranged from 60 to 83, on the back of their outfits.

Following their debut, Peg sent this email to a former producer she had worked with:

Last night was incredible … 20,000 fans screaming for the “Netsational Dancers.” We ran onto the court in red patent leather raincoats … danced a cute “Singing in the Rain” routine … THEN … bent down.

Flung off our coats to the Hip Hop music … did the Hip Hop routine … the crowd went wild, and I mean wild!

After that first game, Peg walked through the stands and people who had learned her name from the giant monitors during the dance routine were shouting, “Peggy! Peggy! Peggy!”

“Now I know what Britney, Paris and Lindsey feel like,” she reports. “Who knew there was this much fun?”

I look forward to my opportunity to dance unexpectedly at any age on any stage. I know I can do it because Peggy Byrne has shown me how.

For more about the NETSational Seniors and other NBA senior dance troupes, read this USA Today story.

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