DWOS17 Meet our Star Dancers: Jennie Sykes & Jillian Dempsey – Team Champagne Strut

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Team Champagne Strut – Jennie Sykes

My current occupation is that of Brand Ambassador for Elevate97. While this role has traditionally been focused on client services, it has recently evolved into a sales and marketing position. I was born in and enjoyed a terrific childhood in Neenah. My family then moved to Utah where I spent a lot of time getting really good at being very bad at skiing and mountain climbing and hiking. In general, I’m not very athletic. My only two competitive sports are sledding and whack-a-mole and that one time I took up gymnasium floor hockey.

My son Alrick and I live on the East side of Green Bay in the Astor Park Neighborhood. He is my best friend and favorite side kick and I couldn’t imagine life without him. Being the mother of a pre-teen boy has proven far more interesting than anything I’ve ever done and we’re just getting started.

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Jennie and her dance partner Michael Witte, of Simply Ballroom,  on their first day of practice.

My first dancing recollection was as a four-year-old, playing my record of “Mary Martin’s Peter Pan” at my church basement daycare for the other kids during show and tell. I demanded they all get up and join in the choreography I had crafted from watching a lot of Solid Gold, Fame and Mitzi Gaynor specials. Had sequins not been considered a choking hazard, there would have been costuming involved.

My dream dance partner has been and always will be Liza Minelli. Preferably as she sings something. And if this dream scenario could take place on a stage in late 70’s New York City that would be tremendous.

Who is my favorite dancer of all time on ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars” and why?  Rumer Willis for the win on this one…tremendous passion, expression and talent. Performance of any kind done well, creates an emotional connection and resonates with everyone around you. Rumer is a wonderful example of this.

Why am I supporting the American Red Cross through DWOS? Discrimination should never be a barrier to being the answer to those in need. Relieving human suffering is a powerful connector and a true catalyst towards creating a greater peace. These are ideas at the core of our mission and they are ideas that I hold as personal values.

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70’s classic rock & KISS themed Halloween Costume Party at Titletown Brewing Co, Tap Room, hosted on October 29 to support the Red Cross. Team Champagne Strut with our amazing Red Cross Volunteers    (l-r) Ann VandeHei, Barb Vanden Langenberg, Jillian Dempsey, Jennie Sykes and Sharon Bryfcznski.

Team Champagne Strut – Jillian Dempsey

I was born in Shreveport, Louisiana. My father’s job took us all over the place, but we finally settled in Iron Mountain, Michigan. The majority of my childhood took place there. But I feel I’m equal parts southern girl and yooper. As a result, I make a mean gumbo and a killer pasty!

Dancing was always a part of my life. Ballet, tap, jazz, gymnastics, competitive cheer (Go Mountaineers!), figure skating, musical theatre, choir… if it involved dancing, I was there.

After high school, I studied communications at Ferris State University. Then I moved around a LOT! (Standing still has never been my strong suit.) Eventually, life led me back to a wonderful man from my hometown. Troy Dempsey and I married in 2008. We moved to Green Bay in 2009, in order to take over The Heel shoe store. Troy is a pedorthist. So this was a perfect fit.

13450204_10153551235266691_2533558317457883653_nThe Heel has existed downtown since the 1970’s. When we took over, Troy was pretty much the only in-store employee. We have grown substantially since then. Troy’s goal has always been providing healthy, quality footwear and educating customers on proper foot health. You would be surprised how much a shoe can help or hurt you!

Somewhere in there we had two fantastic kids. Amelia is 7 and Grey is 4. Amelia is shy, sweet, quiet, gentle, incredibly tall and fantastically nerdy! If you know my husband and I, you are as baffled as we are that we created a shy, quiet human! Grey was a preemie, born at 29 weeks. So his journey has been a crazy one! As a result, he is quite a character! Stubborn, hilarious, loud and dramatic! His only complication is a mild cerebral palsy. Basically it only affects his ability to use his right leg properly. He receives botox and physical therapy and as a result, he is one tough cookie! My kids are by far the biggest part of my life and I wouldn’t have it any other way!

We currently live in the Astor Park area of Green Bay. We absolutely LOVE the community here. I have come to know so many incredible, inspiring people! One of those people being my teammate, neighbor and friend, Jennie Sykes! We have many similarities, but she is far and away the more impressive one! She shines light and love everywhere she goes! She is one of the most creative people I know and a huge inspiration to me. I am SO fortunate to take this journey with her! Not to mention the fact that I never would have taken the steps had she not taken me as her plus one to the event this year!

Who is my dream dance partner? I fell in love with Mikhail Baryshnikov when I saw him dance the Nutcracker. Most people watch it at Christmas time. But from the age of 6, I had that VHS tape in our VCR year-round! I have dreamed of dancing the Nutcracker with him ever since!

As for my favorite dancer on ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars”, it’s a tie between Rumer Willis and Meryl Davis. Rumer’s journey was so inspiring to young women everywhere. She was raw, brave and enormously talented. And let’s face it, she and Val were HOT! Everyone who has ever put on a pair of figure skates dreams of being able to move like Meryl Davis. Her skill was breathtaking! I love that she brought a whole new audience to ice dancing!

The American Red Cross is profoundly vital. Among so many ways they help around the world, they are always the first to respond in any disaster. Regardless of race, gender, socioeconomic status, religion… If there is a need, the Red Cross is there. I’ve seen it first-hand. So really, how could anyone refuse the chance to lend their support?

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