A Special Wish Foundation – Dayton has been making special wishes come true for local children for over 30 years. These wishes wouldn’t be possible without the continued generosity of the community. I ask you to join ASW and continue to give local Wish Kids and their families memories that will last a lifetime.
The 17th Annual Valentines Dance, is benefiting The Dayton Chapter of A Special Wish Foundation, the area’s only wish-granting organization! This fun and unique event will be held at the Wright State University Nutter Center on Friday, February 11th, 2022.
The Valentines Dance is a wonderful night of dancing and great music and boasts a much-anticipated “Dancing with the Dayton Stars” dance competition. Featuring local community leaders paired with professional dancers as they leave it all on the dance floor in their quest to capture the coveted mirrored ball trophy! All proceeds from the dance will go directly to granting the wishes of local children who have been diagnosed with a life-threatening illness.
See if your favorite dancer is still in the lead here!
Susan is a wife, mother, grandmother, trial lawyer, and CEO of Freund, Freeze and Arnold, a female majority owned law firm with three offices in Dayton and southwest Ohio. Over her career practicing law, she has successfully represented physicians, healthcare providers, hospitals, businesses, and other professionals when sued for malpractice or other forms of negligence in Ohio courts. She has served the legal profession by serving as President of the Dayton Bar Association, Dayton Bar Foundation, the Society of Ohio Healthcare Attorneys and the Ohio Chapter of the American Board of Trial Advocates. She has served the community by serving as Board Chair and Director of the YMCA of Greater Dayton. In 2019, she was the recipient of the American Board of Trial Advocates Professionalism award due to her exemplary integrity, civility and professionalism throughout her career as a lawyer, teacher, and counselor. Susan is the only woman in the Greater Dayton area who is a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers, a prestigious invitation only group whose members are thoroughly vetted by peers and judges. Susan loves trying cases and is equally passionate about her family (her husband Arvin, daughters Amanda, Lauren, and Alex and their spouses/partners, grandchildren, Matthew and Ashley, and rescue dog Scout).
I’m a dedicated husband, father, friend, entrepreneur and co-owner of “The Dayton Home Team” - Brokered by eXp Realty. My partner and I are known as “Since the day I was licensed on August 22nd of 2018, I’ve been the #1 Real Estate Agent on Social Media in the State of OHIO! Prior to making the move to Real Estate I was the #1 Inside Sales Professional in The World for a Multi-Billion Dollar Document Destruction Company. (SHRED-IT / STERICYCLE) I have also danced on 8 episodes of “MTV’s The Grind” - Malibu Beach House, California back in 1995 and was a club promoter for six huge night clubs in Manhattan (NYC) before moving here to OHIO 24 years ago! I have ALWAYS loved to dance and cannot wait to learn ballroom dancing! No matter what happens, this is all for an unbelievable cause!
My favorite color is pink. I am afraid of heights. My childhood dream was to be an Olympic gymnast. I am not a fan of tattoos. I have a near fetish with keeping my calendar. Check that: calendars. I will buy a sweet pair of heels, even if I don’t have anything to wear them with. I know an uncanny amount of late 80’s/early 90’s baseball trivia. I can hold my own in a game of Texas Hold’em. I am a hopelessly devoted member of the Flyer Faithful. I graduated high school with just 31 people. I got my first gray hair at age 22. I’ve gotten a whole lot more since then. I play on an adult kickball team. I love a good filet - a little on the rare side. I have three younger brothers. I’ve been told I have pretty hands… and handwriting. I am very organized. I like roller coasters. I wish I knew how to play the piano. I can deal blackjack really well. I like to watch the news. I cry easily, and get that trait honestly from my father. I love Sharpie markers. Butterfingers are my favorite candy bar. I was the very first employee of the Dayton Dragons, and I named their mascot (Heater). I love to play the devil’s advocate. I can throw a football spiral. I make a good lasagna, but that’s about the extent of my cooking abilities. I’m a Name That Tune competition champion. I can drive a stick shift. What’s my sign? Taurus.
Courtney is a 1994 graduate of Russia High School and a 1998 graduate of the University of Dayton. She works part-time as the Sponsor Relations & Events Marketing Manager at the Downtown Dayton Partnership – where she’s doing her part to make Downtown Dayton awesome. Previous employers include the Dayton Dragons and the University of Dayton’s Alumni Relations Department. Courtney has been married to her husband Eric for 20 years, and they reside in Oakwood with their four children… where she acts as the CCC (Chief Controller of the Chaos).
Eric's bio is coming soon!
There once was a girl named Michelle
Who married a guy named Garel
Since those happen to rhyme
It could be a fun time
If her bio did so as well
She's known Dave now for 40 great years
Their three boys have brought laughter and tears
She loves music and books
She crafts and she cooks
And spends quality time with her peers
She's visited many a shore
Been to Ghana, Hong Kong, Singapore
Argentina, Croatia Morocco, Malaysia
But never trained on a dance floor
While at work at State Farm one spring day
Someone called to the office to say
Please come learn a dance
She said she'd take a chance
And now all she can do is just pray
But she's glad to have tried something new
To have helped special wishes come true
So give generously
Let a whole family
Feel their hearts fill with love, thanks to you!
AJ Kessler (he/him/his) considers Dayton his chosen hometown after moving to the Greater Dayton area over 16 years ago (though if you ask him for directions, he’s still “new here”). He lives in Butler Township with his husband, Kevin, four fur babies (two dogs and two cats), and zero human children. After earning a BA in theatre at Wittenberg University, AJ has dedicated himself to three causes: 1) living life to its fullest, 2) being an authentic human, and 3) advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion.
AJ works at CareSource as the South Region Manager of Life Services Ohio and has served as a founding member and Chair of the company’s Equity Council. Additionally, he has volunteered/held Board and committee positions with The Human Race Theatre Company, Equitas Health, and Clothes That Work, among others. He recently joined the Board of Trustees for the Miami Valley Chapter of the American Red Cross. AJ is a member of the Dayton Business Journal’s Forty Under 40 class of 2020.
AJ and his dance partner originated the “crazy cha-cha” during social dance class in college, much to their instructor’s chagrin. He hopes to dazzle you this evening with his willingness to look fabulously ridiculous. He is immensely thankful for the opportunity to support an amazing organization like A Special Wish Foundation while wearing as many sequins as possible.
After a 17-year career with IBM and another 17 years as a personal trainer Peggie McQuiston is enjoying retirement. She is thrilled to be participating in the Special Wish dance competition. Dance and music have been threaded through her entire life. At the tender age of 6 Peggie began her dance and ballet training which has continued ever since. During the past 3 years Peggie directed a wonderful women’s show choir, “Center Stage”, which required her choreography and singing talents. Singing at church is another avenue that keeps her in tune! How very special that she is able to bring her talents to a cause that brings such joy to our many Special Wish recipients.
Nate is a resident of the Dayton area for almost 40 years. A husband of 30 years to his wife, Julie, father to three grown kids currently in or recently out of college; a son, brother and hopefully a decent friend. Nate loves traveling with his wife and playing cards with his family, riding his bicycle, eating at local restaurants, and writing songs with his classroom students.
Nate finds the Dayton area truly his hometown. He is a 1989 graduate from West Carrollton, a 1994 Wright State graduate with a B.S. in Education, 2003 graduate of the University of Dayton with a M.S. in Educational Technology and has been an elementary teacher in West Carrollton and Oakwood for a combined 26 years as a classroom teacher, with a 13-year stint in the middle as a general music and band teacher. Nate has had the honor of being the recipient of numerous awards along the way, including the Guiler Educator Award in West Carrollton, the Parker Love of Teaching Award in Oakwood, as well as being the most recent recipient of the Springfield Symphony Music Educator of the Year Award.
Nate has been involved in local children’s summer music programming with Red Hotz and Lollipops since 2004, serving as executive director since 2011, providing musical performance opportunities for thousands of Dayton area children. Nate mostly hopes that he can be part of helping bring attention to a fantastic cause and looks forward to the honor of participating in this year’s event!
Thank you to our Sponsors!
2019 Dayton Dancing with the Stars Champions!
(from left to right: Celebrity Dancer Dr. Steve Burke with dance partner Amanda Horn& Celebrity Dancer Dr. Ann Austria Bockrath with dance partner Craig Johnston.)
Photo by Sam McConnell
2017 Dayton Dancing with the Stars - Valentines Dancers
(2017 Dancers! - from left to right: Lee Anne Austria, Ramon Gaitan, Kathryn Oakes, Brandon Perpich, Ramona Vikan, Alyenendrov Tsorokean, Kristen Perpich,
George Brockman, Amanda Horn, Kurt Lenhart, Sara Andrews, Brad Eaton) Photo by Sam McConnell