Dr. Brad Shwidock, a dentist working and living in Stamford, never gave into fear while waiting on the transplant list for a new liver. The thought of giving a public speech, however, terrified him.
“I had paralyzing stage fright where I couldn’t get up in front of 10 people and tell them my name and job,” said Shwidock. He found a way past that fear through a love of his daughter and with a little help from the theater.
His wife, Carol, and children, Samara and Zoe, were active with Curtain Call Inc. While he happily supported their acting efforts, Shwidock had little desire to get onstage himself. Then one day a cast member with a minor part in “Damn Yankees” dropped out and Shwidock was asked to take the role. While he didn’t particularly like the thought of appearing onstage, a major life event loomed on the horizon that would require him to conquer that fear.
“My older daughter was going to have her Bat Mitzvah in a few years and knew I was going to have to get up and give a speech. There was no way around it,” said Shwidock. He agreed to join the cast and tackle the fear.
Since then he has appeared in more than 20 productions, even performing in the nude. Shwidock has also held a position on the Curtain Call board of directors for more than a decade. In 2010 he received the theater company’s leadership award.
When Shwidock isn’t onstage or at his dentistry practice, he serves as a driving force behind the region's Liver Life Walk and Donate Life Connecticut. Shwidock hopes his efforts help dispel the myths surrounding organ donation, including the false belief that the major religions condemn the practice.
Throughout his own illness, during which the already thin man lost 30 pounds and took on a greenish hue, Shwidock and his family never doubted he would receive the liver that would save his life. “We just couldn’t allow that negative energy into our lives,” said Shwidock.
After four possible matches, he received the life-saving transplant in 2008.