March 24, 2013 Leave a comment
February 25, 2013 1 Comment
The 5th Annual Dancing with Our Stars for the American Red Cross of Northeast Wisconsin exceeded expectations, with record fundraising and increased awareness to programs and services. Together, with the amazing efforts of our nine celebrity dancers, our sponsors, and with the support of the community, we raised $370,000 in net revenue to support Red Cross programs and services in our community. This year’s event was held on Saturday, February 23 at the Radisson Hotel and Conference Center in Green Bay.“Here at the American Red Cross, we are truly humbled by the outpouring of community support received through the “Dancing with Our Stars” event,” said Steve Hansen, Regional COO and Chapter Executive. “Saturday night, the entire event concluded with the entertainment and demonstration of dancing skills by our nine stars, but the real event started more than four months ago, when our dancers made the commitment to raise funds to support the lifesaving mission of the American Red Cross.”
Hansen also said, “Along with the outstanding support from our sponsors and community, the dancers poured everything they had into this event by generously volunteering their time and talent to make this event a huge success. On behalf of the American Red Cross, thank you for bringing compassion and hope to those in need!”
Thank you to our sponsors including: Oneida Nation of Wisconsin; Kimberly-Clark; Festival Foods; Schneider National Foundation; Jack’s Maintenance; Broadway Automotive; The Green Bay Packers; MillerCoors and Masters Gallery Foods. We also thank our media partners of WBAY-TV2, WIXX and the Green Bay Press-Gazette for their promotional support.
Our dancers definitely put their best foot forward to entertain and dazzle a sold-out crowd of 770 guests. The evening began with dinner and followed with our all-star dance program where each celebrity performed two dances. The night concluded with the awards ceremony.
Taking away the top honors for the Mirror Ball Fundraising Trophy was Betina Driver. The wife of former Green Bay Packers wide receiver Donald Driver raised $155,000 to support the local Red Cross.
To view additional photos from the event visit our Northeast Wisconsin Facebook page.
The People’s Choice award for showcase one went to Pat Warpinski and Taryn Oleson for their Quickstep to “Rolling in the Deep.” People’s Choice award for showcase two went to Mary Gronnert and Michael Witte for their Jive to “Girls Gone Wild.”The Judges’ Choice award went to Betina and Donald Driver for their two performances: A Tango to ‘Too Close” and a Rumba to “Endless Love.”
Special thanks to Cami Rapson and Chris Roth of WBAY-TV 2 for serving as masters of ceremonies and to Jesse Baumgart, Kimberly Larsen and Christopher Mangless for their professional and colorful judging commentary.
Thank you to all our star dancers for their time, commitment, energy and passion: Todd Bierowski, President/Owner, Décor Lighting Sales, Asst. Football Coach, St. Norbert College; Rick Bondowski, Senior Vice President, Regional Retail Director, Associated Bank; Betina Driver, Co-host, “The Better Half”; Mary Gronnert, Foundation Coordinator, Schneider National Foundation, Inc.; Emily Matesic, Reporter, WBAY-TV 2; Sean Sanders, Grocery/Frozen/Dairy Director, Festival Foods; Amy Sehring, Community Supporter; Erica VanBoxel, Green Bay Press-Gazette Magazine Editor; Pat Warpinski, Owner/Veterinarian of The Animal House; and Rane Cegelski and Taryn Oleson from DanceSport of Green Bay; Jamie Keyzer, Jay Morth, Taylor Watry, Michael Witte and Alyssa Zellner from Simply Ballroom of Green Bay; and Terry Irwin from TC Dance Club International of Appleton.
Thank you to our committee, volunteers and most of all the community for supporting your local American Red Cross of Northeast WI.
February 6, 2013 Leave a comment
Written by Maria Amante Press-Gazette Media
Even though Green Bay Packers receiver Donald Driver is officially announcing his retirement today, it’s not the last Green Bay will see of him, his wife, or his dancing.Driver’s wife, Betina, is one of the local celebrities competing in this year’s Dancing With Our Stars, an event that supports the American Red Cross.
Donald Driver took home the mirror ball trophy last year on the 14th season of ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars.” Those dance moves will again be on display as Donald will be Betina’s dance partner at the event.
“The addition of them has added a new element, a new public interest,” said Shawn Kiser, special events coordinator for the American Red Cross of Northeast Wisconsin. “Unless you get to know the people dancing, public interest might not be that high.”
Kiser acknowledged the Drivers’ star power, but said their celebrity doesn’t necessarily mean Betina has the mirror ball trophy in the bag.
“Without a doubt, there’s an actual contest for fundraising,” he said. “The Drivers bring star power, they can leverage their star power, but that doesn’t mean you can discount the other contestants. I wouldn’t call this a runaway by any stretch of the imagination.”
He said Sean Sanders, who works for Festival Foods, had fundraising efforts in stores, selling cookies and other items to support his effort, and Rick Bondowski, who works at Associated Bank, has many employees pulling for him.
The experience has been a challenge on many levels, said Mary Gronnert-Kollross, one of the dancers and foundation coordinator for Schneider National Foundation Inc.
Gronnert-Kollross said she’s learned patience, concentration and focus — all while learning how to dance.
“It’s been a great experience, anyone who has the opportunity should just do it,” she said. “You never know if you’re gonna need the Red Cross. It’s important to give back.”
Each dancer has worked since October on two dances to be performed Feb. 23 at the event. Each person will practice at least 30 hours before performing, in addition to fundraising.
Gronnert-Kollross will dance with Michael Witte, a ballroom dance instructor, and owner of Simply Ballroom, 1296 Velp Ave., a Green Bay dance studio. Witte has worked with the event for several years and choreographed many of the performances
“It’s really rewarding,” Witte said. “I love being a part of that night.”
The person who raises the most money between now and the end of the event will be awarded the mirror ball trophy. All funds raised support disaster prevention, preparation and relief, the life-saving training of first aid, CPR/AED classes, collection and testing of blood and blood products, support to military members serving around the globe, the transportation program and international programs.
Prizes are also awarded for dancing: a people’s choice for each dance and an overall judge’s choice award.
Even if they’re not attending the event, people are able to “vote” for their favorite dancer by making a donation. Donations can be made on the Red Cross website via credit card or by sending a check to the group’s office at 2131 Deckner Ave., Green Bay, and indicating which dancer the funds are to support.
December 14, 2012 Leave a comment
We can dance, we can dance, everybody’s takin’ the chance! -
“Men Without Hats”, 1983
My very first dance memory brings me back to Eddie Whipp’s Dining Hall, town of Poland, to the evening of one of many raucous Polish weddings. My mother, aunts and cousins coaxed me onto the dance floor, and it was there at the age of 8, that I was introduced to the Waltz and Polka. It was a tilt-a-whirl of fun being tossed and twirled about by these intrepid women.
Truth be told, my dance lessons did not go much further than that, because in an effort to be cool, I soon learned to make myself scarce after the chicken dinner and hang with the other guys who stood around and looked at the floor. After a long dance hiatus, I did take a Modern/Jazz class while studying at UW-Madison, where I worked night and day to pull out a B-.
Since a dance career did not seem like a strong possibility, I decided to give veterinary medicine a turn. In 1991, I earned my DVM. That time period was a highlight, because a year earlier I also married the love of my life, Collette LaRue. 22 years later we have four children: Shawnda (19), Ross (17), Chloe (17) and Sam (13), who allow me to live vicariously through their own musical, dance and athletic pursuits.
Upon graduation of veterinary school, I honed my veterinary craft in several small farming towns before planting permanent roots back in Green Bay in 1996. In 2004, I launched The Animal House, a start-up business endeavor, which has been both incredibly challenging and satisfying. I can honestly say that I genuinely love working with people and their pets. The work engages, energizes and is different every day. There is absolutely no other job that I would rather do in this world, even dance the Cha-Cha!
After the workday is done, I find specks of time for other interests. As an avid collector of vinyl, I am an aspiring audiophile. Relaxing at home with my family and spinning some vintage blues is my ideal way to unwind from the everyday hustle.
Thank you to The American Red Cross for this unforgettable opportunity. Following in my older brother Bob’s footsteps as a 2012 DWTS contestant, and Winner of the Special Contribution Award, I have big shoes to fill and a brotherly competitive desire to somehow “do one better”. Admittedly, it is going to be tough! All efforts of course, are in great fun and for wonderful cause. I am truly honored and humbled to be a part of this amazing event.
Good luck to all the contestants and let the dancing begin!