I was born and raised on the Stockbridge-Munsee Indian Reservation in Bowler, WI. I grew up in a mixed cultural household (my mom is German descent and my dad is Native American and Italian descent). I am the oldest of two. I have one brother, Andrew (28). Andy is married to his wife, Ronni, and together they have three kids: My nephews, Aden (8), Kash (5) and my niece, Baelyn (3). As is standard with many Native American families, I also have many cousins who grew up with me and were treated like they were my siblings. Growing up on the reservation, you learn the importance of community, culture, giving and family. It was instilled in me at a young age to always give more than you receive. My family practiced what they preached and always gave back in different ways; through volunteerism, careers and the list goes on. At age 14, I started my journey with serving others following a near fatal car/train accident through public speaking. I traveled the country telling my story to over 5,000 communities, schools, college campuses and conferences. At age 18, I was elected as the National Co-President of United National Indian Tribal Youth Inc. (UNITY) and served for four years. UNITY is the largest American Indian/Alaska Native Youth organization in the country. After serving Native American youth for several years, I left the organization full time to return back to college. I still serve UNITY as a trainer and advisor to its 12 member executive board.
I joined Humana’s National Education Department in July 2014 after serving three years as the Youth Development Manager with the Green Bay Area Chamber of Commerce. My time at the Chamber gave me the opportunity to interact with all aspects of our community, its people and work directly with over 40,000 students and teachers in Brown County. This role made me fall in love with the Green Bay area. In my current role as a learning facilitator in the National Education department, I have the opportunity to directly shape Humana’s workforce by providing them with the skills and resources needed to be effective in their jobs. My hobbies include: music (both singing and seeing concerts), theatre, running, biking, being with family and friends, traveling, and volunteering. I’ve held a lot of titles in my 31 years of life, but one I’m excited to add is the title of “ballroom dancer”.
SNEAK PEEK of DAN AND HIS PARTNER MINA:
Dancing has always been in my blood. My parents met at a disco and I’m often asked if I am related to famous dancer Denny Terrio. I still have no clue who the guy is. My family would be the first to say that since I was a kid, I was always dancing around the house. When I was 6 years old, I once made a dance aerobics video that my dad liked to show my friends when they came over. I hope to God it doesn’t mysteriously show up somewhere in this DWOS journey. When I was 11, I received my first formal dance lesson from my Grandmother, the late Jeannette Ashley, who taught me how to Polka at my cousin’s wedding. She always said “All good German boys need to know how to Polka.” I laughed cause isn’t the Polka Polish? My passion for performance and dance came when I was 14. I was recovering from injuries sustained in an automobile accident where the van I was riding it was struck by a train. I suffered severe head trauma, bruised heart and severe injuries to my right knee, leg and elbow. I underwent an experimental knee surgery where doctors completely rebuilt my knee from the ground up. I was told that my mobility would be limited due to the reconstruction of my knee however it beat the alternative: losing my leg from the knee down. After five months of intensive rehabilitation, I stood for the first time and began to cry; not due to the pain, but due to the fact I was standing again. I had to face reality that at 13, I can no longer play Football and Basketball. So I found a new passion: theatre and dance. Since age 13, I have performed in over 30 musicals, plays, and dance recitals. It has long since been on my bucket list to learn to ballroom dance but due to time, lack of resources and procrastination, I have never followed through with it. I’m excited to finally get some professional training in dance that will make up for my horrible dance moves back when I was a child.
My dream dance partner is either Belle from Beauty and The Beast or Cinderella. They make dancing look so easy and magical….maybe it’s because they’re animated?
I love dancers who add an edge to their style of dance. Because of this, I love Dancing with the Stars pros Lacey Schwimmer and Allison Holker, after her incredible year with Riker Lynch. I would love to dance with Amy Purdy, as she taught us all about perseverance and rising above your injuries which ultimately pushed me to say yes to DWOS.
In the car/train accident back in 1997, I received units of blood which saved my life. I made a vow that I would give back in some way to the organization that saved my life through the gift of blood. The American Red Cross was the first organization I volunteered with when I was 14 and now I am being presented with an opportunity to give back in a bigger light. I’ve seen so many lives touched by the work of the Red Cross. I am excited to take this journey for such an amazing cause.