Remembering the Record-Setting DWOS Journey of Jim Rivett

By Shawn Kiser, DWOS Executive Producer

When you raise $200,000 you deserve to be called “The King” and that’s exactly how I referred to Jim Rivett following his record-setting fundraising campaign for “Dancing with Our Stars” in 2014. I’m blessed to have held a front-row seat for this epic journey and am honored to share some of its most memorable moments as we celebrate the life of this amazing man.

I first met Jim at the historic “Drive for the Red Party” to support Betina and Donald Driver’s DWOS 2013 campaign. That star-studded event took place at the beautiful home of DWOS original Tracy Alpert and several of Donald’s Packers teammates were in attendance. The energy level was high as people danced, wined and dined while placing bids on oral and silent auction items. The biggest ticket was dinner in your home with the Drivers which fetched a winning bid of $25,000! Two others would match it for a total of $75k just for those three meals! In total, $141,000 of the then-record $158,000 the Drivers raised came in that night. Even though he was not connected to the American Red Cross at the time Jim was just as excited as me by the success and pledged that night to take part in DWOS 2014.

When it came to setting the goal for his fundraising, Jim knew exactly how much he wanted to bring in. “$160,000”, he said with a confidence I’d never seen before.

“If I’m going to do this I want to top what Betina and Donald did and raise a record amount for the Red Cross. The organization provides critical services in our community and I’m going to rally everyone I know to donate to the cause,” Jim proclaimed.

It was certainly music to my ears as I feared there was nowhere to go but down following the impressive overall total of $370k from 2013. I would quickly learn that would be the last time I’d doubt the powerful abilities of Mr. Rivett.

We met at Arketype, a marketing firm Jim led at the time. It occupied the former Grace Presbyterian Church in downtown Green Bay. Jim and his team did an outstanding job repurposing the building into one of the coolest work spaces I’ve ever seen. My spirits were immediately lifted when I walked in there for the first time and I’d feel that same way in the many visits to come.

During this initial get-together Jim was rattling off names of people he wanted to reach out to for sponsorships and donations. He frantically wrote on every inch of several pages of a note pad as a name or an idea came to mind. True to his marketing prowess, he titled his effort “Red, White and You.” I felt very inspired and knew our similar drive to succeed would make for a great partnership.

A key piece to his fundraising puzzle was an event he famously dubbed “Mirror Ball Bash” which took place at Arketype. It served as the perfect venue for this disco-themed dance party. More than 300 people donned bell bottoms, leisure suits and platform shoes while boogying to some of the best tunes from that era.

Jim raised $50,000 just that night from auction items to selling undergarments with disco balls printed on them! It provided him a great start toward his $160k goal.

Another event he hosted was a benefit concert featuring musicians Jeremy Lister and Andy Davis. Hundreds of people packed the historic Meyer Theatre to enjoy the great music and support the Red Cross. It brought in another $20,000.

The previous year I unsuccessfully tried to bring in Donald Driver’s professional dance partner from when he appeared on ABC-TV’s “Dancing with the Stars.” The stars just weren’t aligned in 2013 for Peta Murgatroyd to come to Green Bay to serve as a judge for DWOS. The main conflict was she started rehearsals for the spring season of the TV show the day after our event and her agent was not willing to take a chance with our Midwest winter weather possibly delaying Peta’s return to Los Angeles. It was at that moment I decided the following year we’d move our event one week earlier to avoid such a conflict.

I pushed for Peta’s appearance fee and travel expenses to be included in the 2014 event budget but the powers that be would not approve it. They did allow me the ability to try and find someone to underwrite those costs, though. Knowing Jim also subscribed to the motto “Go Big or Go Home” I immediately called him and talked strategy. He loved the idea of bringing in Peta and we went to work on how to make it happen. We created a couple of experiences tied to her visit and found donors willing to claim them. News of Peta’s participation took the buzz surrounding the event to another level.

Despite his fundraising success to date Jim faced a formidable challenge from Chris Lofgren. The President & CEO of Schneider was closing the gap by securing one major donation after another. Chris became like a bright orange Schneider truck picking up steam as it drove downhill. In the other lane stood what Jim dubbed himself, “The Little Guy.” With about one month to go in the campaign Chris pulled ahead in the race for the coveted Fundraising Mirror Ball Trophy.

Rivett rallied his supporters, regained the lead and with one week before the event reached his goal.

“We made it, Shawn!” Jim cheerfully said. “We raised $160,000!” “That’s wonderful, Jim! Congrats,” I replied. And without taking another breath I asked, “Do you think you could make it to $200,000? I mean, it’s great you hit your goal but if you want to leave no margin for error and put plenty of distance between you and Chris, $200k is the way to go.” Never one to back down, Jim said, “Challenge accepted!”

We’ve finally reached Saturday, February 15, 2014: event night. Finishing touches were taking place inside our new home, the lower ballroom inside the KI Convention Center. We’d outgrown our previous two venues and were excited to break in a new spot while welcoming a record crowd of more than 1,000. Jim was still sitting on $160k and I was questioning how much more he’d be able to score before the final votes would be counted at the end of the night.

I was making may way through the ballroom as guests were just starting to trickle in and ran into one of Jim’s biggest supporters, Kurt Vos. He handed me an envelope which felt heavy and asked me, “will these contributions count toward Jim’s total?” “Of course they will, Kurt,” I replied, “we accept donations right up until the end of the last dance.” Once more he asked, “Shawn, will these contributions I’m giving to you count toward Jim’s total?” “Yes, Kurt, I assure you they will count.” He then said, “There is $40,000 worth of donations inside this envelope.” WHOA! My eyes lit up, I cracked a huge smile and Kurt did the same. He knew what those donations just did. It put Jim over the top and landed him on $200,000 and brought the overall team total to more than $500,000! Kurt and I shared a warm embrace as I laughed in amazement at the gravity of what just took place.

It was now time for the dancing to take place which to me was just the icing on the cake but to the performers was the real treat. Jim’s first performance with his pro partner Therese was a Quickstep. One of Jim’s table favors was stress balls and at the end of this performance his 70+ guests tossed them onto the dance floor!

His second dance paid tribute to the time he’d spent working in Latin America years ago. Jim and Therese spiced things up with this Samba.

Once the dancing wrapped up it was onto the awards and finding out who won the battle between Jim and Chris. When it was announced Lofgren finished second with about $140,000, Jim’s supporters knew he was the top dog and the began chanting “Jim! Jim! Jim!” before co-host Cami Rapson even announced the winner. After declaring his feat of raising $200,000, Peta Murgatroyd came forward and presented Jim with the Mirror Ball Trophy. This photo remains my all-time favorite from the 10-year DWOS dynasty.

Those who know Jim know how selfless he is and true to form he deflected the praise for his individual success and instead placed the focus on the team for bringing in more than $500k. He told his fellow participants they all earned a piece of the Mirror Ball and he would be making it a traveling trophy. Each of them would carry it for one month before passing it along to another compadre. It’s the same love he showed them during the campaign by attending nearly all their events. That was Jim, the ultimate team player.

And so, the “King of DWOS” was crowned. I’m still amazed when I think about how he raised all that money. Jim secured donations from more than 500 unique donors with amounts ranging from $5 to $15,000. He applied his marketing skills to his campaign, mailing potential donors creative materials engaging them in his journey and encouraging them to contribute. He also offered help to other participants, providing them with free printing or ideas. That support would continue in future years as he helped recruit and coach others who took part in the event.

Jim desperately wanted to participate in the Dancing with Our Stars finale this past February but a major project he was involved with at his new agency, Khrome, required his full attention. He did make a cameo appearance in Jody Weyers’ “Last Dance” and was also recognized in the dedication for the surprise dance I performed.

 

Jim Rivett – thank you for sharing your love, kindness, talents and treasures with us. Your story continues and your legacy lives on through the many people and organizations you positively impacted. May you dance in our hearts forever.

10th and Final Dancing with Our Stars Campaign Raises Awareness for Local Services and $400,000+!

A star-studded event capped the 10th and Final Dancing with Our Stars for the American Red Cross campaign. Celebrities Peta Murgatroyd and Maks Chmerkovskiy joined the All-Star cast for a spectacular ballroom dancing show on Saturday, February 24, 2018 at the KI Convention Center in Green Bay. The amazing efforts of the star and professional dancers, sponsors and the community helped raise more than $400,000 to support local Red Cross programs and services.

Taking away the top honor for the Mirror Ball Fundraising Trophy was Team Schneider – Mary Gronnert & Paul Kardish. They raised more than $201,000.

The People’s Choice Champion Award went to Lisa Pritzl and Michael Witte for their dance to “Footloose.”  The People’s Choice Runner Up Award went to Dan Terrio and Mina Witte for their Contemporary routine to “Fix You.”

The Judges’ Choice Champion Award went to Anna Allen and Michael Witte for their Jitterbug to “You and Me and a Bottle Make Three Tonight.” The Judges’ Choice Runner Up Award went to Marty Williams and Heather Wudstrack for their Bolero to “So Soon.”

Thank you to our presenting sponsor, Schneider Foundation, as well as our other sponsors: Associated Bank; Bay Industries; BayTek Games; Belmark; Broadway Automotive; Festival Foods; Green Bay Packaging; Green Bay Packers; Hyatt Regency Green Bay; Jacks Maintenance; Khrome Agency; Kimberly-Clark; Rally Man Entertainment; Sanimax; Schneider Foundation; Simply Ballroom; Shift Visuals; Three Three Five and Wisconsin Public Service Foundation. We also thank our media partners of WBAY-TV2 and 101 WIXX for their promotional support.

Special thanks to Cami Rapson and Tammy Elliott of WBAY-TV 2 for serving as masters of ceremonies.

Thank you to all our star dancers for their time, commitment, energy and passion:

  • Anna Allen – Howard-Suamico School District
  • Chelsea Anderson – Community Volunteer
  • Billi Jo Baneck – Brown County Public Safety
  • Keith Cronin – Green Bay Packers
  • Kati Donaho – Hyatt
  • Mary Gronnert – Schneider Foundation
  • Paul Kardish – Schneider
  • Tracy Lemsky – Associated Bank
  • Emily Matesic – WBAY-TV 2
  • Zeb Metzler – Innovative Services
  • Bill McGlin – Shawano County Public Safety
  • Pam Niles – Bellin Health Generations
  • Lisa Pritzl – Prophit Marketing
  • Adam Rockman – Bellin Health
  • Grant Soletski – CrossFit Green Bay
  • Stacy Stecker – Associated Bank
  • Dan Terrio – UnitedHealthcare
  • Jody Weyers – American Red Cross
  • Marty Williams – Sierra Dental
  • Kelly Wolff – Kimberly-Clark, Aerial Dance Pole Exercise

Also, thank you to our pro dance partners:

Rane Cegelski from RS Ballroom Instruction; Terry Irwin and Angela Cervantes from TC Dance Club of Appleton; Charles Michaels from Arthur Murray School of Dance in Madison; Jay Morth from Ballroom by Jay; Heather Wudstrack from Get Out and Dance in Weston; Sara Baye, Michael Witte and Mina Witte from Simply Ballroom of Green Bay.

Thank you to the event committee, volunteers and most of all the community for supporting your local Red Cross.

Get to know DWOS Executive Producer: Shawn Kiser

After spending nearly two decades in radio and television, I challenged myself to make a bigger difference in this world and ventured into the non-profit sector.

This is my sixth year producing Dancing with Our Stars and I’ve developed many great relationships through this wonderful event. In addition to my DWOS duties, I also serve as the Development Director at Acts 1:8 Ministry where we share God’s love through Planned Acts of Christian Kindness. Faith, family and helping the less fortunate are my priorities and that’s providing me with a very blessed and fulfilled life! Thank you all for supporting this amazing group of community volunteers!

A quick trip down memory lane – I vividly remember a conversation I had with Donald Driver in December of 2012 in which I told him I wanted to do an all-star event for the 10th anniversary. Keep in mind DWOS wasn’t even five years old at that time! It’s cool to see it come to fruition although bittersweet since it doubles as the final chapter in this amazing story. Planning for this event began about two years ago. Let’s make it a grand finale!

 

 

Live Stream of Dancing with Our Stars

Thank you to our friends at Camera Corner Connecting Point, if you can’t make it to the big show in person, you can check out all the dancing action on our live video stream starting at 6:55pm on Saturday, February 24!

Click on the link to watch: https://livestream.com/cameracornergb/DWOS2018

Hollywood Star Powers Descend On Green Bay To Benefit American Red Cross

DWTS Peta Murgatroyd & Maksim Chmerkovskiy To Autograph Original Nicolosi Portrait at 10th and Final Dancing with our Stars Gala

Guests attending this Saturday’s 10th and final “Dancing with Our Stars” (aka DWOS) for the American Red Cross can win several prizes including an autographed piece of iconic American pop culture.

Frequently featured on Entertainment Tonight, Celebrity Artist Nicolosi has now been commissioned to create one of his signature style original mixed media acrylic on canvas masterpieces of professional ballroom dancers Peta Murgatroyd and Maksim Chmerkovskiy right here in Green Bay.

This original artwork was created exclusively for DWOS and will be unveiled & autographed live by Peta, Maks and Nicolosi. The retail gallery value of a Nicolosi original is $30,000.

This portrait will be unveiled & autographed by the trio on Friday night at a retro Disco Dance Party fundraiser (7pm-midnight). It is the featured “Super Star” item of a high-end raffle the following night at the traditional ballroom dance show. Both events will take place at the KI Convention Center in downtown Green Bay and will feature appearances by Peta and Maks.

Limited Edition Art Prints of the portrait (valued at $3,500 each) will also be on sale at a special charity benefit price of $500 apiece with a portion of the proceeds benefiting the American Red Cross. Each comes with it’s own Certificate of Authenticity.

These signed Art Prints will be on sale at the Gala and are now available for purchase online by clicking HERE.

Another big-ticket prize is a trip for two, including airfare and hotel accommodations, to the Monday, October 8th episode of “Dancing with the Stars” in Hollywood, California. Someone else will score two VIP tickets to the “Maks, Val & Peta Tour: Confidential” for Sunday, April 22nd in Chicago. Other prizes include dances with the celebrity couple.

While this is the first time Maks will be part of DWOS, it marks Peta’s third appearance as she previously participated as a celebrity judge in 2014 and 2015. Murgatroyd is well known for teaming with Green Bay Packers legend Donald Driver to win Season 14 of “Dancing with the Stars.”

People interested in purchasing tickets to either event should send an email to: redcrossdwos@gmail.com.

Billed as “Dancing with Our Stars 2018: All-Star Edition, presented by the Schneider Foundation”, local community members who participated in previous years are returning to once again be Star Dancers.

The goal of this final DWOS campaign is to raise $600,000. In its nine-year history, DWOS has raised more than $2 million. 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 and international programs.

Rane Cegelski, Ballroom by Jay, Simply Ballroom of Green Bay, TC Dance Club of Appleton, Arthur Murray Dance Centers of Madison and Get Out and Dance are the participating professional dance partners for the event. Associated Bank, Bay Industries, BayTek Games, Belmark, Broadway Automotive, Festival Foods, Green Bay Packaging, Green Bay Packers, Hyatt Regency Green Bay, Jack’s Maintenance, Khrome Agency, Kimberly-Clark, Plae Bistro, Rally Man Entertainment, Sanimax, Schneider, Shift Visuals, Simply Ballroom, Three Three Five, Wisconsin Public Service Foundation, WBAY-TV 2 and 101 WIXX are proud sponsors of Dancing with our Stars.

More event details can be found on the following Red Cross platforms:

Donation page: www.crowdrise.com/redcrossallstars

Dancing with Our Stars blog: http://redcrossdwosblog.org

Facebook: www.facebook.com/americanredcrossnortheastwisconsinchapter/

Twitter: @redcrosswis

Use #RedCrossAllStars and #DWOS18 to join the conversation on social media!

About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation’s blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.

 

Official 2018 Dancing with Our Stars for the American Red Cross Poster!

Join us in saluting this amazing team and our sponsors for their dedication to community service. Props also to Harle Photography LLC for designing yet another awesome poster. #DWOS18 #RedCrossAllStar

People interested in purchasing tickets to either the Friday, Feb 23 Disco Ball event or the Grand Event on Saturday, Feb 24 (limited seating available) should send an email to: redcrossdwos@gmail.com.