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!
The 9th Annual Dancing with Our Stars for the American Red Cross held on Saturday, February 25 at the KI Convention Center in Green Bay featured fantastic fundraising as well as spectacular dancing. Together, with the amazing efforts of our star and professional dancers, sponsors, and with the support of the community, we raised more than $206,000 to support Red Cross programs and services in our community.
Taking away the top honor for the Mirror Ball Fundraising Trophy – Team Division was Stacy Stecker and Chelsea Anderson of Team Rock for the Red. They raised more than $66,000 to support the local Red Cross. The winner of the Mirror Ball Fundraising Trophy – Individual Division was Jim Knopf who raised more than $25,000.
People’s Choice Champion Award went to Billi Jo Baneck and Michael Witte for their dance to “I Won’t Let Go.” The People’s Choice Runner Up Award went to Ryan Martin and Mina Witte for their Paso Doble to “Kiss the Sky.”
The Judges’ Choice Champion Award went to Kelly Wolff and Terry Irwin for their Rhythm Medley to “One Night Only.” The Judges’ Choice Runner Up Award went to Sarah Larson and Rane Cegelski for their Harry Potter-themed Smooth Medley.
Thank you to our sponsors including: Associated Bank; AT&T; BayTek Games; Broadway Automotive; Festival Foods; Green Bay Packaging; Green Bay Packers; Kimberly-Clark; Nature’s Way; Sanimax; Schneider Foundation, Simply Ballroom, SKB Management, Tundraland and Wisconsin Public Service. We also thank our media partners of WBAY-TV2, 101 WIXX and 94.3 JackFM for their promotional support.
Special thanks to Cami Rapson of WBAY-TV 2 and Shawn Kiser of Rally Man Entertainment for serving as masters of ceremonies and Christopher Mangless, Matthew Rassmussen and Heather Wudstrack for their professional and colorful commentary as judges.
Thank you to all our star dancers for their time, commitment, energy and passion:
- Team Champagne Strut:
- Jennie Sykes – Brand Ambassador, Elevate97
- Jillian Dempsey – Co-owner, The Heel
- Team Culinary Chemist:
- Jyll Everman – Co-Owner/Executive Chef, Gather on Broadway
- Sarah Larson – Quality Control Chemist, Nature’s Way
- Team E-Rock:
- Emily Matesic – Fox Valley Bureau Chief, WBAY-TV
- Adam Rockman – BSN/RN/CCRN, Bellin Health
- Team Rock for the Red:
- Chelsea Anderson – UW School of Medicine and Public Health
- Stacy Stecker – Senior Vice President/Private Banking Group Manager, Associated Bank
- Team Vixens:
- Kelly Wolff – Kimberly-Clark
- Lusine Weitz – Owner, NC Janitorial
The community members competing individually:
- Billi Jo Baneck – Dispatcher, Brown County Public Safety
- Jim Knopf – Sales & Marketing Manager, Servpro
- Dr. Ryan Martin – Professor of Psychology at UW-Green Bay
- Tara Steinhorst – Founder, Colton’s Cure
- Carla Vander Loop – Stylist/Social Media Marketing, LS Boutique
- Woody from 94.3 JackFM – Program Coordinator/On-Air Talent
Also, thank you to our pro dance partners:
Rane Cegelski; Terry Irwin from TC Dance Club of Appleton; Charles Michaels from Arthur Murray School of Dance in Sun Prairie; Jay Morth from Ballroom by Jay; Michael Witte and Mina Witte from Simply Ballroom of Green Bay.
To view videos of the dances click HERE.
Check out our Northeast Wisconsin Facebook Page to view event photos.
Thank you to the event committee, volunteers and most of all the community for supporting your local Red Cross.
I am the program coordinator and on-air talent for 94.3 Jack FM. I am also a weekend entertainer, providing DJ and emcee services for brides and grooms on their wedding days. I have been married for 20 years, we have 10 children (some of whom are foster children living with us). In my free time, if I have any, I enjoy going to the movies or hanging out at a concert.
One of the reasons that I am participating in this adventure is because of my son: Charlie. He was born on May 18, 2009. It was discovered quickly that he had some abnormalities as well as biliary atresia. Biliary atresia occurs when there is no bile duct from the liver to the small intestines. Basically, the bile made and stored in the liver is unable to be excreted from the body. He was also born without a gallbladder another storage unit for bile. This bile builds up in the blood stream and that is when you see the yellowing of the eyes and skin. Charlie had a Kasai procedure to try and repair this defect, however that surgery was unsuccessful. His only chance at long term survival was a liver transplant. Without a transplant, most children born with biliary atresia typically do not survive past the age of two.
Charlie’s story from the first eight weeks of life until his transplant spanned just over one year. There are too many details to provide in this brief synopsis. There are some vital facts that helped to facilitate his survival. The amazing doctors and nurses who helped us care for him on a daily basis, and all of the blood products he received during his many days in the hospital. His transplant stay in the hospital was 122 days. During this period of time his life was like a roller coaster ride. He had countless surgeries, tests, as well as blood products. Thanks to the American Red Cross, Charlie was able to receive 20 units of red blood cells, 21 units of fresh frozen platelets, 14 units of plasma, and 1 unit of cryoprecipitate.
Without those blood products during his stay as well as during his transplant, Charlie would not have survived. Please consider making a donation to the American Red Cross. You never know when someone you love will need blood products.
The 8th Annual Dancing with Our Stars for the American Red Cross held on Saturday, February 20 at the KI Convention Center in Green Bay featured fantastic fundraising as well as spectacular dancing. Together, with the amazing efforts of our star and professional dancers, sponsors, and with the support of the community, we raised more than $200,000 in net revenue to support Red Cross programs and services in our community.
“Here at the Red Cross, we are truly humbled by the outpouring of community support received through the “Dancing with Our Stars” event,” said Steve Hansen, Chapter Executive. “Saturday night, the entire event concluded with the entertainment and demonstration of dancing skills by our 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 Red Cross.”
Thank you to our sponsors including: Broadway Automotive; Erie Insurance; Festival Foods; Gagnon Clay Products; Green Bay Packaging; Green Bay Packers; NXC Imaging; Schneider Foundation, Toonen Properties and Wisconsin Public Service Foundation. We also thank our media partners of WBAY-TV2 and 101 WIXX for their promotional support.
Our dancers definitely put their best foot forward to entertain and dazzle the crowd. The evening began with dinner and followed with our amazing dance program where each star dancer performed two dances. The night concluded with the awards ceremony.
Taking away the top honor for the Mirror Ball Fundraising Trophy was Karen Classon. The owner of SKB Management raised $87,000 to support the local Red Cross.
The People’s Choice award for showcase one went to Kati Donaho and Rane Cegelski for their Foxtrot to “Kill of the Night.” The People’s Choice award for showcase two went to Jen Berres-Dart and Michael Witte for their Jive to “Shut Up and Dance.”
The Judges’ Choice award went to Anna Allen and Michael Witte for their two performances: the Foxtrot to “Sexy Silk” and a Bolero to “Alone.”
Special thanks to Cami Rapson and Tammy Elliott of WBAY-TV 2 for serving as masters of ceremonies and Nikolay Karchev, Jay Morth and Heather Wudstrack for their professional and colorful commentary as judges.
Thank you to all our star dancers for their time, commitment, energy and passion:
• Anna Allen – Teacher, Lineville Intermediate School
• Jen Berres-Dart – Owner/Instructor, Jenstar Yoga
• Karen Classon – SKB Management
• Kati Donaho – Business Travel/Group Sales Manager, Hyatt Regency
• Lori Dufek – Account Manager, NXC Imaging
• Maureen Gagnon – Co-owner, Gagnon Clay Products
• Zeb Metzler – Learning & Development Specialist, Innovative Services
• Dan Terrio – Learning Facilitator, Humana
• Marty Williams – Owner/Dentist, Sierra Dental
Also, thank you to our pro dance partners: Rane Cegelski and Brad McDonald from DanceSport of Green Bay; Bill Beschta; Jamie Blair, Michael Witte and Mina Witte from Simply Ballroom of Green Bay; and Jim Gagnon, Toby Crawford and Terry Irwin from TC Dance Club of Appleton.
Thank you to our committee, volunteers and most of all the community for supporting your local Red Cross.
Vote for Zeb to “Stay Alive” for a chance to win the Fundraising Mirrorball Trophy.
Come out to Drag Bingo with the Queens of the Mirrorball Bash!
Join the Queens for an afternoon of BINGO!! $10 gets you in the door and your first bingo card!! Extra cards can be purchased for $5! Amazing prizes for each game and a 50/50 raffle to top things off!! Proceeds to benefit the American Red Cross and TeamMcZ for Dancing with Our Stars.
When: Saturday, February 6
Where: Townline Pub & Grill
Click HERE for more information.