We’re so grateful to everyone for dancing and voting in the 3rd annual Family Dance-off! I’ve had so much fun watching the more than 100 video submissions, and hope you have too! Sixteen families have danced their way into the finalist round, and each of these families has already won a $1,000 donation to their Children’s Miracle Network Hospital. Now, they need your vote to win one of our top three prizes! Remember, finalist voting starts today on FamilyDanceoff.comand ends Friday at 11:59 p.m. EST. I was fortunate enough to learn a little bit about each of our 16 finalist families, each with an amazing story and an inspirational reason for entering the contest. Take a minute and get to know these 16 amazing families from 11 cities across the country.
Atlanta, GA – The Changar Family In their video, “Meet the Changar’s,” Glori and Allan Changar play off the classic opening to “The Flintstones” cartoon by personalizing the song for their family. “We knew that the video was supposed to be fun and humorous, and we had a lot of fun with it,” said Glori. “We struggled to have a baby, so we take nothing about our family for granted. We’re fortunate that Gianna has always been healthy, but it gives us such peace of mind to know that Children’s Healthcare of Atlantais here as a resource should we ever need it.”
Charleston, WV – The Holway Family Dancing for West Virginia University Children's Hospital, this is the second straight year the Holway family has been named a finalist in the Family Dance-off. The Holways’ video, “Road Trip to Good Health,” shows the family dancing across the country – from the top of the Hollywood sign to Mountaineer Field – to the tune of Hot Chelle Rae’s “Tonight, Tonight.” “We feel strongly about promoting healthy lifestyles for our children,” said Amanda Holway. “Dance is such an easy way for families to get active, and we figured if we recorded ourselves dancing, it might inspire others to start moving too.”
Charlotte, NC – The Furick and Peetz Families The Furick family knew they had to enter for one reason: dancing comes naturally to their 3-year-old Kayd. “Even at his young age, Kayd has a natural liking for music and dancing,” Jasmine said. “Wherever there is music, Kayd is up and dancing.” In the Furick family’s video, “M.I.B. PROTÉGÉ,” Kayd shows off his dance moves and love for dirt bikes. The couple knew that the Dance-off would be a great way for their family to promote physical activity and do it for a great cause. “Levine Children’s Hospitalis such a special place and we want to do everything we can to help them help others,” Michael said.
The Peetz family was also a finalist in the 2011 Family Dance-off. Last year they entered for fun, but dancing for Levine Children’s Hospital in their video, “Shake That Peetz Family,” means a whole lot more this year. Seventeen weeks into Lauren’s pregnancy with her second son, Jonathan, she was told that he would be born with a number of health problems, including Hydrocephalus (brain swelling), a cleft lip and palate, clubbed feet and a rare birth defect called Encephalocele. Jonathan’s prognosis was deemed “incompatible with life.” Choosing to proceed rather than terminate the pregnancy, Lauren gave birth to a full-term, seven-pound baby boy on July 21, 2011. “The doctors and nurses at Levine have treated Jonathan with such love and care,” Jason said. “We are so thankful for them, and the Dance-off is a way for us to give other children just like Jonathan a chance at life.”
Cincinnati, OH – The Goodlett and Meyer Families Both mom Jenny Goodlett and dad Jay, parents to Megan (age 12), Nate (age 9) and Mia (age 4), are retired Cincinnati Ballet Company dancers. The children all take dance lessons at The Studio for Dance in Blue Ash, Ohio, where Jenny is a teacher. In their video, “Every Goodlett Dance Now,” the Goodlett family shows off their moves. “Dance is in our blood, so after doing some research on the Family Dance-off, I knew it was something we had to do,” said Jenny. “As our son Nate would say, dance is our family business.”
The Meyer family’s video, “Meyer Fam Jam,” pays homage to their son Max’s favorite sport, basketball. Basketball helped get Max through months in the hospital after he was diagnosed with Aplastic Anemia, a life-threatening disease where bone marrow does not produce enough new cells to replenish blood cells. He subsequently underwent months of blood transfusions, chemotherapy and ultimately a bone marrow transplant from his younger sister, Ellee, who was 17 months old at the time. “Max has endured a long and difficult journey,” said Kristin Meyer, Max’s mother. “It is because of the amazing care and support from the staff at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Centerthat he is now back at school and playing his favorite sport, basketball.”
Dayton, OH – The Ballard and Froehlich families The “Party Rockers” video by the Ballard family features a special dance move by Brookelyn’s dad, John. “He has always done the worm – we call it his secret dance move – and we knew it had to be a part of the video,” said Erin. During the 2011 contest, Brookelyn was in and out of Dayton Children’sbeing treated for low blood sugar, so the family did not enter. This year, they were determined to create a video and are thrilled to have made it to the finalist round. “We love to dance and have been looking forward to the Family Dance-off since last year.”
Also a second-time Family Dance-off finalist this year, the Froehlich family reenacts the “We’re All in This Together” musical scene from the movie “High School Musical” in their video, “Primrose School Musical,” complete with wigs, costumes and a basketball court backdrop. “This year we put a lot more thought and planning into our video,” said Jim. “We picked a song that represented our feelings about supporting the hospital and had so much fun with every aspect of the video – from costumes to the on-set location. Dayton Children’sis such a special place, and we’ve learned what it means to have such a valuable resource in our city.”
Gainesville, FL – The Pence Family In their video, titled “The Pence Bunch,” you can definitely see why this family has been compared to the famed Brady Bunch. Raising money for Shands Hospital for Children at the University of Floridais a passion that runs deep in the family. At five months pregnant, Kelly and husband Nathan found out their baby boy, Tyler, had a cleft lip and a possible cleft palate. After he was born, Tyler began seeing a team of specialists at Shands on a regular basis and had surgery at only three months old. “Thanks to Shands, we have a healthy, happy and active 7-year-old boy,” Nathan said. “Tyler is a miracle child for Shands and a blessing for us.”
Indianapolis, IN – The Kurmay Family Traci Kurmay credits Riley Hospital for Children with giving her family three miracles, the first of which was her own life. At age 13, Traci was diagnosed with a rare bone cancer, and spent her first teenage year undergoing aggressive treatment at Riley. Doctors told her she’d never have children of her own, but at age 26, Traci delivered Makenna – a 28-week miracle baby with a birth weight of 1 pound 6 ounces. Makenna survived respiratory failure and two brain cysts to celebrate her 6th birthday this past year. And the third miracle? 4-year-old Maison, diagnosed with Down Syndrome but dancing up a storm in the Kurmay’s video, titled “Kurmay Family.” “We owe Riley so much, and the Dance-off is such a fun way to give back,” Traci said.
Minneapolis, MN – The Tan Family This is now the second year the Tan family has entered, and for the second year in a row, they have been named finalists in the contest with their video, “Everybody ‘Tan-ce’ Now!” “We were fortunate enough to make it to the finalist round last year and are absolutely thrilled to be in the same position this year,” said Heather. “Our daughter Maelea was diagnosed with failure to thrive as a newborn. She’s certainly thriving now! This is due largely to our local children’s hospital in Colorado Springs, where we lived at the time. Here in the Twin Cities, we’re grateful to have a resource like Gillette Children’savailable to our family and other local kids.”
Omaha, NE – The Overly, Wright and Ulrich Families The Overly family’s videostars Christian Overly, an 11-year-old from Bellevue moving and grooving in his wheelchair alongside grandmother Betty. Christian was born with cerebral palsy, but has a big smile and an even bigger heart. “I just want to raise money to help other children who are sick,” Christian said. Derry Overly, Christian’s father, couldn’t be prouder. “Christian’s got cerebral palsy, but he still has a great attitude about life. His video promotes being happy and healthy and still having fun, no matter what your circumstances are,” Derry said.
The Wrights’ video showcases a “Triplets Boogie” with 4-year-olds Ryleigh, Teagan and Grace dancing alongside mom Andrea and dad Steve. Ryleigh and Teagan are both battling leukemia at Children's Hospital & Medical Center, and the family hopes to win the contest to support the hospital and promote healthy lifestyles. “We love taking walks, playing at parks and just dancing together as a family. It’s so important to be healthy, especially since two of our daughters have cancer,” said Andrea. “Plus, it’s so great that we’re able to support Children’s through the Dance-off since the hospital has been so wonderful to us!”
In the Ulrichs’ video, titled “Just Try’na Have Fun,” mom Kathleen dances with 4-year-old Alexis and 7-year-old Grace. “We had a blast making the video, but we’re asking everyone to vote for the other two Omaha families. We planned to donate any money we might have won to the hospital anyway, and after all these two families have been through, we feel they deserve to win,” said Kathleen.
Sarasota, FL – The Higgins Family Not only do they love to stay active and play sports together, the Higgins family also wanted to give a little something back to All Children’s Hospital for all the hospital has given to them. At only 1 year old, their son Ryan began having persistent seizures stemming from ear infection fevers. “The night Ryan had his first seizure was easily the most painful moment of my life,” dad Sean said. “A surgery later, Ryan is now healthy and happy. We are so grateful for everyone at All Children’s Hospital. Their care for our son is truly a reflection of their organizational values from top to bottom.” Watch their video.
Warren, NJ – The McGuire Family An archery accident landed Ariana McGuire in the emergency room a year and a half ago. The accident nearly cost Ariana her life – a metal-tipped arrow pierced her skull, causing a massive stroke and sending her into a coma for three weeks. After multiple surgeries, Ariana arrived at Children’s Specialized Hospital for intensive rehabilitation. “When she started, she couldn’t even talk or control the right side of her body. Now, she’s walking, talking and even dancing,” said Luciana McGuire, Ariana’s mother. “The hospital has done so much for Ari, and our Dance-off video is a way for us to give back just a little of everything they’ve given us.”