Get to Know – DWOS14 All Star – Jody Weyers

Love these people! My volunteer crew for my 40th Birthday Bash Fundraiser!

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.

December 2016 in front of the Taj Mahal, Agra, India

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.

Post from donor, Madeline Spooner: We all gave blood today ❣️💉 to help victims injured in the Didion explosion in Cambria, WI. My heart breaks for the people who lost their lives, including Duel Block who was best friends with all of these sweet kids. Red Cross’ goal was to collect 56 units and a total of 80 units were given. A potential of 240 lives saved! Feels so good to do good and be surrounded by such amazing, lovely people.

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! 

Get to Know our Pro Dance Partners: Michael Witte of Simply Ballroom

8952MichaelI have been active all my life. I was a four year member of the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay Phoenix Swim and Dive team and found my passion for both teaching and dancing while attending UWGB. When I realized swimming was coming to an end, I wanted a way to keep active, fit and meet new people. I have always been fascinated with Knights (my high school mascot) and the idea that if you were strong enough to wield a sword you should be graceful enough to dance appealed to me.

I went to college to be an educator and both activities have melded together to be an incredibly rewarding career. My greatest joy in teaching is helping my students more than meet their goals. I love it when my students surprise themselves and SHATTER their goals!

I started competitive ballroom dance in 2008, after my swim career ended, and have never looked back. I love to dance socially but there is nothing like the feel of a competition.  Not only does it fill the adrenalin void that swimming left me but it offers me challenges and goals. Even if it is just a show I love the chance to take center stage and am blessed to dance with some of the most incredible women in the world! I have won numerous Wisconsin State Amateur Championships, but it is not about the titles. I compete and encourage my students to compete because competition encourages growth.

Ballroom dance offers the opportunity to share light and goodness with the world, I hope you will let me share that light and goodness with you through the art and sport of ballroom dancing!!!

Michael will be dancing with Tracy Lemsky of Associated Bank and Jody Weyers of the American Red Cross.

Get to Know: Jody Weyers from the American Red Cross

“The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.”

― Eleanor Roosevelt

IMG_2567 Jody

photo by Frievalt Photography, llc

How many of you have heard of “the bucket list”? It is a list of things you want to do before you “kick the bucket.” Do you have a bucket list?  I do, and some of the things on that list include; dipping my toe in all four of the oceans (have three of the four complete), Visiting all seven continents (four of seven done) and to run a half marathon. I must admit, ballroom dancing was not on the list.

At first, my coworkers and I joked about me dancing, and then it was like, “Jody, why don’t you” and I thought….. Let’s add it to the bucket list!

February 11, 2014 will be my 40th birthday, so if there was going to be a year to dance this would be the year!

Forty years ago, this small town girl was born to Larry and Bea Weyers. I grew up on a 70 acre hobby farm in Black Creek (population 1,028) with an older sister and younger brother and we raised pigs and horses. I graduated from Shiocton High School in 1992 with a whopping graduating class of 56 people! I knew from early on that I wanted to experience and see as much of this big world as I could, but coming from a small town it was scary to venture too far.

I chose to go to college at UW-Green Bay, and I graduated in 1996 with a degree in communications. I must admit, I had no idea what I wanted to go to school for and communications was the only major I didn’t have to take statistics, so that is what I did…. Who knew it would lead me to where I am today.

I can honestly say, I have one of the greatest jobs as the Volunteer and Communications Director for the American Red Cross and have been here for over 12 years. A big part as to why it is so great is because of our volunteers.  Every day I am inspired by the dedication and passion that our volunteers have for the Red Cross.

My passion is inspiring others to get involved in the community and volunteer. I tell people all the time, my job as a volunteer manager is to connect people with their passion, and if it is with the Red Cross, than that is just a bonus.

As communications director, I am very visible in the community, but for most events, I am used to being behind the scenes. Participating in Dancing with Our Stars will definitely be taking me out of my comfort zone. I look forward to bonding and sharing this experience with my fellow star dancer, and thank them for their support. I also look forward to the challenge of raising funds for an organization that has given so much to me, and I want to do my part to give back.

In honor of this milestone birthday, my fundraising goal is $40,000 — “40 for 40”!  I hope you follow me on my journey on our blog: www.redcrossdwosblog.org , on twitter @jweyers2 and VOTE for me!!! #DWOS14

See you on the dance floor!!

Dance Questions:

Describe your first dancing recollection. About how old were you and what was the occasion?  My first dance recollection was the dreaded grade school dances.  I have images of lots of pastel colored shirts, bracelets, and earrings, along with big bangs & all of us thinking we were so cool…..  Later in life, people may have caught me shaking my thing at a Lovemonkeys concert.

Who is your dream dance partner? I was really hoping I would have won our “Dance with Donald” last year!!

Who is your favorite dancer of all time on ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars” and why?  My favorite professional dancer would be Derek Huff.  He seems to really know how to get the best out of his partners, and work with them to their fullest potential.

Why support the American Red Cross with your participation? I see the direct impact our programs and services provide to the members of the community and our amazing volunteers who help deliver the services. Being an employee of the Red Cross, I am always fundraising to support the organization, but this is something completely out of the box for me, but I look forward to the challenge.

Hobbies or passions: I love to travel, and two years ago I went on an 11 day mission trip to Swaziland, Africa. This trip was one of the greatest experiences of my life. I also like to get involved in the community, from attending, volunteering or being a part of the planning of local events. You can see me cruising on my 1970 Schwinn most weekends downtown or hitting up the Fox River Trail on my road bike.  I also enjoy live music! Some of my favorite local WI artists include: The Lovemonkeys, Rob Anthony, Keith Pulvermacher, Ryan McIntryre, and many others.

BdayBash_40for40_poster - FINAL

We are at the Halfway Point!!!!

By DWOS 14 Dancer, Jody Weyers

IMAG2133_1_1 half way 1

My dance partner, Michael Witte, of Simply Ballroom. This lift may just be in one of my routines!!!

It is December 1st – most people are thinking 24 days until Christmas, not me, I am thinking 75 days before Dancing with Our Stars!  We are at the half-way point. Since October 1st, I have been dancing twice a week, for an hour at a time.

As I reflect back on the last two months, I can’t believe how quickly the time has gone.  As Sean Sanders, DWOS 2013 dancer, said at our kick-off party, it is amazing how much you can fit in a day and to enjoy the journey.

That is what I have been trying to do. I have been going nonstop since the kick-off. Work, dance, working-out and fundraising….it is exhausting, but also exhilarating. It is humbling how generous and supportive everyone has been and continues to be.

It is definitely a journey. A journey I am proud to take, with my ten other DWOS14 Stars, and all of our Stars of past to support a cause near and dear to me. Here are some of the highlights over the past two months:

1. Jim Rivett’s Mirrorball Party! He knows how to through one heck of a party, and one that will be talked about for years to come.  If you missed it, click HERE to see pics.

2. Challenging my mind and body. Yes, I can “shake it” with the best of them at a concert or bar, but ballroom dancing is a whole different animal. If my head and thoughts are anywhere else, but in the studio, it is not going to be a good dance day.  Dancing has been teaching me how to focus better, on and off the floor.

3. The camaraderie that has grown with my fellow dancers, their families, and our pro dancers! Yes, it is a competition, but bottom line, we are all there to support each other and to raise money for an amazing cause.

4. Helping me build greater confidence. I am not a size 2, nor do I have to be or ever will be. Dancing is teaching me to appreciate my body just the way it is. I think it is amazing that Amber Riley, took home the Mirrorball this year for the Dancing with the Stars show. She was full of spunk, personality and not a size two. Spunk & personality is what I am trying to channel in my two dances – tango & cha cha.

IMAG2134_1_1 halfway 2I look forward to what the next two months has in store, and will continue to enjoy this amazing (but difficult) journey. Thank you Michael for being an amazing and supportive dance partner in all of this.

Don’t forget to VOTE!!! 

“We may run, walk, stumble. drive, or fly, but let us never lose sight of the reason for the journey, or miss a chance to see a rainbow on the way.”
―     Gloria Gaither