Dancing with Our Stars 2013 Fundraiser Sets Event Record

Betina and Donald Driver with their matching mirrorballs.

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.

Taryn Oleson and Patrick Warpinski, dancing a quickstep to “Rolling in the Deep” sung live by his daughter, Lashawnda Warpinski.

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.

Rane Cegelski and Erica VanBoxel, Waltz to “White Fantasy”

Alyssa Zellner and Rick Bondowski, Cha Cah to “Please Don’t Go”

Michael Witte and Mary Gronnert, Jive to “Girls Gone Wild”

Jay Morth and Amy Sehring dance the Viennese Waltz to “After the Fall”

Emily Matesic and Jay Morth dance the East Coast Swingt to “Morse Code of Love”

Jamie Keyzer and Sean Sanders dance tango to “Promavera Portena”

Taylor Watry and Todd Bierowski dancing the Cha Cha to “International Love”

Betina and Donald Driver dance the rumba to “Endless Love”

 

Local stars take to dance floor for Red Cross

Written by Nathan Phelps Press-Gazette Media – Click HERE for video of story.

Donald and Betina Driver perform their dance routine during the American Red Cross Dancing With Our Stars event at the Radisson Hotel and Conference Center in Ashwaubenon, Wis., on Saturday, February 23, 2013. Lukas Keapproth/Press Gazette Media

ASHWAUBENON —  A little more than an hour to showtime, it was a mix of nervousness, anticipation and excitement among a number of dancers performing as part Dancing With Our Stars, an annual fundraiser for the American Red Cross.

They practiced for months — and then practiced more Saturday — and they were about to hit a brightly lit dance area in front of more than 750 people.

“If you’re not nervous, then there’s something wrong with you,” said Rane Cegelski, a dancer from Green Bay. “With 750 people, you’re going to get a little nervous because you never know what might go wrong.” But those pre-event feelings are replaced by others at the end of the night.

“Walking off is fantastic and you’re all pumped up… then a couple days later you have this huge withdrawal,” Cegelski said. This was his third year dancing and fifth volunteering. The event, in its fifth year, serves as a fundraiser to support Red Cross disaster prevention, preparation and relief; life-saving training of first aid; CPR/AED classes; collection and testing of blood and blood products; support to military members; the transportation program; and international programs.

Michael Witte, owner of Simply Ballroom and one of the pro dancers, has seen the event grow over the years. This is his fourth year dancing in the event. “It’s been interesting to see the growth and evolution from that first year when we were at the Riverside Ballroom where they could only fit 300 people and we raised $48,000, to the Three Clans Room … and we have individual stars that are raising more than we raised that whole first year.”

Saturday night’s sold out event, held at the Radisson Hotel & Conference Center Green Bay in Ashwaubenon, raised more than $370,000, up from $149,000 last year.

Erica Vanboxel and Rane Cegelski perform their dance routine during the American Red Cross Dancing With Our Stars event at the Radisson Hotel and Conference Center in Ashwaubenon, Wis., on Saturday, February 23, 2013. Lukas Keapproth/Press Gazette Media

Erica Van Boxel, a Press-Gazette employee, hit the floor as a celebrity dancer. She got involved to support the Red Cross. “Going into ballroom dancing I didn’t really know what to expect,” Van Boxel said. “The best part is going to be knowing I set my mind to something, I accomplished learning two dances, and when they announce the fund raising total …it’s going to be an awesome feeling to know we were a part of making that happen.”

Dancing With Our Stars got a bit of Dancing With THE Stars Saturday night when former Packers wide receiver Donald Driver took to the floor with his wife, Betina. Pre-event nerves? Not really. This was 770 people versus a television audience of 35 million. “I’m nervous throughout the week, but when the lights come on, I’m ready to play ball,” Donald Driver said. “The American Red Cross helps so many people, not just in Wisconsin but around the world, and to help them raise money for their cause is truly something special.”

Betina Driver took top honors in the fundraising department Saturday night, earning a another mirror ball award for the Driver household.

Dancers worked since October to prepare two dances for Saturday night’s events — as well as raising funds. Todd Bierowski, a first-time celebrity dancer from De Pere, kept his goals for the evening simple. “The best-case scenario is we raise a lot of money … and we get through the routine without forgetting any of steps,” he said. “And we have a lot of fun doing it. That’s the key.” Despite having to “learn how to dance,” it’s something Bierowski said he’d do again. “It’s challenging, but it’s very rewarding,” he said. “If I was asked (to do it again), I probably would. It’s been fun.”

nphelps@pressgazettemedia.com and follow him on Twitter@nathanphelpsPG or on Facebook at Nathan Phelps (Press-Gazette)