Dancing With Our Heroes
Dancing with Our Heroes is a Ballroom dancing competition where couples will compete against each other.
Each couple will dance to a song and genre of dance to their choosing. The couples will be judged on their
performance by a panel of 3 judges. There will be an award ceremony following the competition, there will
be an award for Judge's Favorite, Audience Favorite and People's Choice (couple who fundraises the most).
Please help them reach their fundraising goals by voting for your favorite couple below.
Veteran: Michele Rouse
Dance Instructor: Felix Reyes
Studio: Fred Astaire, Trumbull
Michele Rouse was born in Baltimore,MD. and raised in West Virginia. Following high school Michele proudly joined the United States Navy and served as an Aviation Support Equipment Technician, deployed overseas and attached to a P3 squadron out of Jacksonville, FL. Michele currently lives in Stratford,CT. with her amazing husband and two beautiful children. She is currently employed at Sikorsky Aircraft, in Aerostructures Quality Engineering.
Michele enjoys spending time with her family and friends and is thrilled to be learning how to dance for this great charity event.
Veteran: Elizabeth Jones
Dance Instructor:Vladimir Serbulenco
Studio: Fred Astaire, Southbury
Liz works at Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation for the Turkish Utility Helicopter Program. She is a Program Manager for Professional Services, which includes delivery of technical training on the Blackhawk S-70i helicopter to Turkish customers. She regularly travels for work but has not flown in a Blackhawk since her U.S. Army days when she served as a Radar & Navigational Avionic Technician. Liz served four years active duty and was stationed in Hanau, Germany with the 8th Battalion/158th Aviation Brigade. Her husband Gordon, who is also dancing works as an EMT and the couple live in Southbury, CT with their two children. They first took ballroom lessons 15 years ago, and are happy to refresh their skills for this great cause!
Veteran: Sean Connolly
Dance Instructor: Emma Mills
Studio: Fred Astaire, Glastonbury
East Hartford native Sean Connolly currently serves his country as a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army Reserve. A graduate of the U.S. Army War College, Sean served on active duty for more than seven years and is a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Most recently, he served as commissioner of the State of Connecticut Department of Veterans Affairs. Sean’s military awards and decorations include the Bronze Star Medal, three awards of the Meritorious Service Medal, the Iraqi Campaign Medal, and the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal. Sean is married to Carol A. Connolly, Esq. They have two boys, Sean (11) and Brendan (8) and a rescue puppy, Lucky, and they reside in Hebron, CT.
Veteran: George Joseph
Dance Partner: Susan Cavanaugh
Dance Instructor: Lina Mambella
Studio: Metropolitan Dance Center
George Joseph. George met his wife of 56 years on the dance floor of her brother’s wedding. Drafted by the Army in 1959, George decided to join the National Guard and served 6 months of active duty, followed by 6 years in the reserves that included manning the Nike Missiles that protected our entire East Coast from attack.
George and Betty raised their four children in Stamford, CT, where George was a teacher at the elementary school for 33 years. In retirement he enjoys his 9 grandchildren and singing in his church’s traditional choir. He is dedicating tonight’s dance to his wife, Betty,
as it was a favorite that the two of them danced to on many occasions.
Veteran: Hugh Schoelzel
Dance Instructor: Diana Lyn Cote’
Studio: The Garage
Hugh was born in Boston and has lived in Connecticut for most of his life. He learned to fly while a student at Georgia Tech, and after graduating, entered Air Force pilot training to become a fighter pilot in the CT Air Guard. In his eleven years in the military he flew the F-100 Super Sabre and the F-102 Delta Dagger. In his spare time he became an airline pilot for TWA, then American. In his 37 year career he flew many aircraft types, with his favorite being the B-747. While flying was his best job, he also served as Chief Pilot and Vice President. After retiring, he was the president of Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome for many years, flying the nation’s oldest airplane, an original 1909 Bleriot. Presently he is the Captain of Shooting for Gold’s Dragoons, the nation’s oldest military unit (1660). He salutes our veterans, and is honored to help them for their service for our country.
Veteran: Jonathan Minkler
Dance Instructor: Kristy Cavanaugh
Studio: Dance Fits U
Jonathan Minkler was born in Arlington Texas and raised in Pottstown, PA with his five older brothers and two younger sisters. At the age of 16 he decided to enlist in the Marine Corps infantry after reading “Flag of our Fathers,” and on January 17th, 2005 he found himself standing on the yellow footprints of Paris Island.
In 2015 he was medically retired due to the combat injuries he had sustained in Marjah Afghanistan. He is currently enrolled at University of Bridgeport, pursing a bachelor’s degree in psychology as a premed student. His goal is to become a Psychologist and work with veterans at a Veterans Affairs (VA) Hospital.
First Responder: Gordon Jones
Dance Instructor: Amanda Meador
Studio: Fred Astaire, Southbury
Gordon Jones works at Southbury Ambulance as a volunteer Emergency Medical Technician. He first joined as an EMR and then achieved certification as an EMT. Gordon is also a skilled singer and musician. He sings classical music as a tenor section lead for church, and regularly performs Irish traditional and American folk music at sessions around the state. Gordon had the distinction of being an Army spouse during Liz’s active duty four years in Germany. Since the military was so used to seeing wives, they put a “W” on his ID card instead of a “H”! Gordon played in many Irish pubs in Germany and also performed for soldiers on base. He lives with Liz in Southbury, CT with their two children. Gordon hopes that this most recent foray into dancing will mean he learns to lead!
Veteran: Eric Diaz
Dance Instructor: Lorie Rios
Studio: The Garage
Eric Diaz hails from the great city of New Britain, CT. Having spent most of his life in the beehive city, with a strong interest in cars, he graduated from E.C. Goodwin Technical High School, specializing in Automotive Tech. Immediately after high school; Eric Diaz enlisted in the United States Army in 2002 as a Military Police Officer. With 6 years of duty, he learned many valuable lessons that would benefit him in the near future. Now as a seasoned salesperson, Eric is one of the top sales consultants at Hoffman Honda. And for the second year, he has been awarded Honda’s Council of Sales award for excellent customer service and product knowledge. Don’t be surprised if you see him Djing on the weekends. Eric is a well known Latin DJ. For over 10 years, he has been taking care of the tunes for party patrons all over the tri-state area night clubs. When he is not Djing or working at the dealership, you will find him spending time with his two kids: Davian and Ava Diaz.