It’s hard to believe it was four years ago I competed in the 2014 Dancing with Our Stars for the American Red Cross. When I look back on my journey I can honestly say it was one of the most rewarding and humbling experiences of my life. To this day, I continue to be humbled by all the people who supported me along the way and who contributed to my fundraising campaign in shattering my goal of raising $40,000. My final fundraising total was $56,182.57!
Here we are in year 10 and the final year – it is bitter sweet! I have been involved with this event since it was just an idea that came out of the mouth of one of our board members, Jim Gagnon, and here we are nine years later, 95 community dancers who gave of their heart and soul to support the American Red Cross and more than $2 million dollars raised for program and services.
People ask me all the time, if so successful, why is this the last year? Fundraisers have a shelf life and DWOS has had an amazing run, but it has gotten harder and harder to find people who can give the time, willing to make the commitment and have the network to be able to raise the minimum commitment we ask.
Reading over my 2014 bio (click HERE to read) so much has changed in my life, but one thing that has not changed is my work and passion for the Red Cross (16 years) and my commitment to engage and be an advocate for volunteering.
In my 2014 bio I talked about my bucket list – in the four years since, I can proudly check off: ballroom dancing, running a ½ marathon, traveling to India and seeing the Taj Mahal and I moved from Green Bay to Madison.
My current role with the Red Cross is Donor Recruitment Manager. I work with our community sponsor groups in Sauk and Columbia Counties and in the cities of DeForest, Windsor and Waunakee in setting up blood drives and educating the community about the importance of giving blood.
I am very fortunate I continue to work with an amazing group of volunteers from our blood drive coordinators to all our volunteers working at the drives and those behind the scenes helping to put up posters in their community, clearing the donation space of tables and chairs before the drive and being advocates to recruit donors.
Recently I was reminded, once again, the impact Red Cross volunteers have within a community when disaster strikes. May 31, 2017, there was an explosion at the Didion Corn Mill in Cambria killing five and many others injured and needing lifesaving blood due to their injuries. Our disaster volunteers were on site immediately supporting all the emergency crews and our mental health volunteers were there to help the families impacted by being the shoulder to lean on, giving out lots of hugs, listening and providing comfort and guidance when their world has been turned upside down. I saw the impact of the community near and far wanting to help – how they helped was by coming out and donating blood. Five days after the explosion we had a blood drive in the nearby town of Randolph. Our goal was 56 units and we collected 80 units for a potential of 240 lives saved. We had to turn people away because we ran out of blood bags. The community support was again humbling and very heart-warming.
Over my 16 years of working with the Red Cross and volunteers I have witnessed countless acts of kindness and am blessed to have crossed paths with some of the greatest people in our community.
My goal for the 2018 Dancing with Our Stars and the goal of our amazing All-Star dance crew is to make this year the BIGGEST and raise the MOST money from any other year. Our goal is to raise more than $600,000. I hope you will give a gift in support of me and the American Red Cross! (click HERE to donate).
In closing, I want to give a special thank you to Shawn Kiser, Executive Producer of DWOS. You are the big brother I never had. I am forever grateful for our friendship, teamwork, your positive “go big or go home” attitude and for always having my back. We have had so many amazing memories and laughs since you came on board in 2012. I also want to give a shout out to my #RAGECREW –— You know who you are. I am looking forward to putting on my dance shoes once again for one final performance for the Red Cross Dancing with Our Stars …… The Last Dance!!!
Here are my videos from my 2014 Dancing with our Stars journey!