Byron Higinbotham & Aimee Wilson: Cha Cha
Star: Byron HiginbothamRead Bio
Byron Higinbotham was born and raised in Central Point and is a graduate of SOU. While finishing his degree in Criminology, he met his wife Emmalee, whom he married in 2002. Years later they were blessed with two sons, Hudson, age 4, and Scout, age 2. They have a passion for fitness, health, outdoors and working with people and are fortunate to be in fields they love: Byron owning/operating a family farm and HIGS GYM and Emmalee administering Ventana Wellness.
After reaching a 3rd Degree Black Belt in Taekwondo and competing nationally, Byron then transitioned to Brazilian Jiu Jitsu where he was awarded US Open and Gracie Worlds Gold and Pan Ams Bronze. In addition to being a gym owner, he’s a third generation farmer, maintaining Higinbotham Farms. Over the years, Byron’s gym has grown and evolved, but helping others achieve goals, big or small, and seeing success is what makes Bryon the most proud.
Outside of work, you can find Byron’s family in the great outdoors hiking, biking or rock climbing. Dancing is definitely not in Byron’s repertoire, but he is eager to take on the challenge, help a great organization and hopefully dance his way to a trophy!
Partner / Instructor: Aimee WilsonRead Bio
Aimee Wilson was born in Crescent City, California where she unknowingly met her soul mate in second grade. Aimee and her husband Byron found themselves inseparable in Chico, California, where they attended college. After Byron finished graduate school in 2008, they moved back to Crescent City to marry and pursue careers. After 3 years and many trips to the Rogue Valley, the couple fell in love with Southern Oregon. In 2011, Byron and Aimee decided to call the Rogue Valley their home. You can now find Aimee styling hair at Bel Capelli Salon and teaching dance at the Evergreen Ballroom.
Aimee found her passion for dance at a young age. She received training at the California School of the Arts and has also taken classes with the choreographers from So You Think You Can Dance. Even so, ballroom dancing isn’t her area of expertise. She’s thankful to the Dancing with the Rogue Valley Stars committee for trusting her with the responsibility of being a choreographer.
This is Aimee’s 3rd year participating in DWTRVS. During this time the Sparrow Clubs have become dear to her. Aimee would like to thank the two Byrons—husband and Star—for embracing her quirky nature.
Daniel Corbett & Jennifer Berry: Paso Doble
Star: Daniel CorbettRead Bio
Daniel Corbett was born and raised in Junction City, Oregon. He has been a resident of the Rogue Valley for over 10 years. He lives in Jacksonville, Oregon with his lovely future wife Christiana Miles and their three dogs. He enjoys music, gardening and serving the community.
Daniel has worn many hats over the years as a Stylist as well as Director of Education at Salon Vivid for the last 10 years. He is currently starting his own Salon with Christiana in Jacksonville, called Studio C, along with a grooming parlor for men. His family has been in the barbering industry since the late 1800’s. His passion for education has also led him to become one of Oregon’s top National Color Educators for John Paul Mitchell Systems.
Daniel volunteers in the community through his involvement as President of the Medford Elks Lodge #1168 B.P.O.E, whose main focus is work with children and veterans. Daniel is happy to have the opportunity to serve the community with DWTRVS and Sparrow Clubs. Learning to dance is a challenge he is willing to accept, but wouldn’t be possible without his partner, Jennifer Berry, a few encouraging words from his friend, Holly Roberts, and most importantly, the understanding and support of Christiana.
Partner / Instructor: Jennifer BerryRead Bio
Jennifer Berry, age 24, grew up in Medford, Oregon. After graduating from North Medford High, Jennifer attended Oregon State University. She had the opportunity to study abroad in France for a semester and also completed an internship in Los Angeles with Warner Music Group. She received her Bachelor of Science in Business Management last December.
Jennifer was a competitive figure skater for 8 years. After she retired from skating, she pursued her passion for ballroom dancing. At OSU, she joined the Utah Ballroom Dance Company (UBDC). Following graduation, Jennifer went on a 5-month tour with UBDC up and down the West Coast performing in the productions Hollywood: A Tribute to Ballroom Dance and Dancing With YOUR Stars. She now is back in Medford teaching ballroom dance at the Evergreen Ballroom and coaching figure skating at the Rrrink. She eventually plans to pursue her passion in music and move to Los Angeles to become involved in the record label industry.
Jennifer is very excited to be a part of an event that has such a positive impact on the community by raising funds for Sparrow Clubs. She would like to thank everyone for volunteering time to make this event happen.
Jani Rollins & Jerry Slaughter: Samba
Star: Jani RollinsRead Bio
Jani Rollins moved to Ashland in 1999 from an isolated rural town in Colorado after her son Bryce was born. Since moving to Ashland, she has opened her own practice and has been a provider to many families. After delivering her daughter Mia in the Waterbirth tub at the Ashland Community
Hospital in 2003, Jani felt strongly about offering this service to other women and has been an integral part of developing that and other programs at the hospital.
Ten years ago, Jani delivered a baby who became a Sparrow after receiving a diagnosis of kidney cancer at 4 months of age. That was her first contact with Sparrow Clubs. Since then, she delivered the baby of one of the Partner dancers, Jerry Slaughter, and has decided now is the time to get more involved.
Jani has always had a love for dancing, and she and her husband, David, have taken a few dance lessons. However, with the busy life of medicine combined with motherhood, those lessons dropped out pretty quickly. Now, with the motivation that comes from helping others, she is making the time to learn to dance and hopes to be able to reach out to the community to help more future Sparrows.
Partner / Instructor: Jerry SlaughterRead Bio
Jerry Slaughter is celebrating his 6th year participating with Dancing with the Rogue Valley Stars. Jerry has been involved with business development for more than twenty years and is a consultant with JLM Group, helping businesses achieve their goals by streamlining processes and analyzing ways to maximize productivity. JLM Group also offers executive management services for companies looking to grow. Jerry specializes in consulting with medical companies that are ready to go mobile and position their practice to take advantage of preventative care possibilities with current government and insurance incentives.
Jerry volunteers his time teaching Olympic style Taekwondo and Mixed Martial Arts with his non-profit, Slaughter Martial Arts. Slaughter Martial Arts brings athletics and a positive energy release to kids of all ages. This year Slaughter Martial Arts was able to take 11 state champions to the National Taekwondo tournament in San Jose, California to compete against over 5000 athletes.
Jerry is enjoying raising his 9 and 6-year-old daughters, Julia and Andria, and his 1 year old son, Jagger with his partner and soul mate, Michelle Garner.
Jennifer Hedgepeth & Steve Szabo: Foxtrot
Star: Jennifer HedgepethRead Bio
Jennifer Hedgepeth was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, California. She moved to Oregon 15 years ago and loves the Rogue Valley as a place to raise her family. Jenn met her husband, Neil, at church where he swept her off her feet and they married a short 3 months later. They have 3 crazy kids. Chloe (13) was a Sparrow in 2007 but is happy and HEALTHY today! Mason (12) is Mr. Jokester and keeps everyone on his toes, and Abigail (9) is quite the little sporty princess.
Jenn is no stranger to DWTRVS! She’s been the stage manager of DWTRVS since its inception 6 years ago and is excited to be on the other side of the curtain. When she’s not in the ballroom or chauffeuring children, you may see her wearing one of her many hats as a wedding planner and owner of Serenity Events.
She enjoys her work with charities and has a special place in her heart for Sparrow Clubs. Jenn would like to thank her partner Steve Szabo, and consultants Marilee and Bill Grimm and Cori Grimm for their support and PATIENCE! Jenn would also like to thank the AMAZING Sue Quackenbush for creating such an amazing dress to ‘twirl’ in!
Partner / Instructor: Steve SzaboRead Bio
Steve was born and raised in Dayton, Ohio, and was introduced to ballroom dancing when his parents signed him up for a ballroom class at the age of 9. Steve soon became the teacher’s pet. After moving to California from Ohio, Steve became involved in the square dance, round dance, and clog dance activities beginning in 1974. He learned most of his ballroom style dancing through round dancing, which uses ballroom steps, choreographed to a specific piece of music and is queued by a ‘caller.’ Therefore, one never needs to memorize the routines. After dancing for 20 years, other interests took Steve away from dancing until he moved to Oregon in 2007
In 2008, he found a notice of a ballroom dancing class in the Medford Parks and Recreation catalog and has been dancing with Cori Grimm’s classes and groups since then. A special thanks to Cori for putting up with him and letting him stay with the dance crowd. This is Steve’s 4th year dancing as a Partner for Dancing with the Rogue Valley Stars.
Kim Jostad & Jason Younker: Salsa
Star: Kim JostadRead Bio
Kimberly Jostad, born in Bellflower, California, moved to Southern Oregon at a young age and feels that this is home. Kim and her husband, Chris, have been married 15 years and they have 3 children: Tanner, a 10th grader at Eagle Point High School, Ella, a 4th grader at Eagle Rock Elementary and their beautiful son, Ethan, who passed away from cancer in August 2011 at age nine.
Kimberly is a Business Development Manager with US Cellular and Co-Founder of the Ethan Jostad Foundation for Childhood Cancer. The Jostads established the non-profit Ethan Jostad Foundation, in memory of their son, to carry on Ethan’s legacy and help other children and their families battling the devastating disease of cancer.
Kimberly feels extremely humbled and appreciative of the opportunity to be a part of DWTRVS. The Jostad’s son, Ethan, was a Sparrow at South Medford High School in 2009, and they understand the impact that Sparrow Clubs has for families. Although Kimberly has never danced before, she is extremely excited to have the opportunity to step outside her comfort zone and help an amazing cause. She also wants to give a shout out to everyone who helps with this event, and to her dance partner, Jason Younker, for all his patience!
Partner / Instructor: Jason YounkerRead Bio
Jason Younker grew up primarily in the Midwest. His love for dance became quite apparent at the young age of three. When asked recently, he said the first song he could remember dancing and attempting to sing to was Elvis Presley’s Jailhouse Rock. Even at that young age, Jason realized how much he LOVED to dance! As he got older, he took lessons from his parents and various dance studios, and he did a lot of self-studying throughout the years.
Jason has been in the Rogue Valley for 12 1/2 years now, and participating in
DWTRVS for the past 6 years. Jason stated that, although he truly enjoys performing and dancing, dancing for DWTRVS brings the passion and love for dance to a whole other level. It serves a very wonderful purpose—to help local children in need.
Jason humbly, and whole-heartedly, thanks DWTRVS for allowing him to participate in these last amazing 6 years! And, he is looking forward to many more years of dancing with the The Rogue Valley Stars!
Kirstin O’Connor & Emmett Armstrong: East Coast Swing
Star: Kirstin O’ConnorRead Bio
Born in the suburbs of New York, Kirstin O’Connor has lived all over the United States, from Alabama, Georgia, and Tennessee, to Central and Southern California. She is the oldest of three in her family. She moved to the Rogue Valley in 2013 and absolutely loves living in Ashland with her Australian Shepherd, named Ollie.
Kirstin is an Anchor/Reporter at NewsWatch12 (KDRV) in Medford, Oregon. You can catch her anchoring NewsWatch12 This Morning on weekends and reporting during the week. She found a passion for journalism as a student at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD). She graduated early and began her career as a broadcast journalist at KNSD in San Diego, California. Kirstin says that the best part of her job is capturing thoughts, memories, and testimonies from interviews and translating them into a visual experience for viewers.
The stage is not unfamiliar territory for Kirstin. She began performing at a young age in dance recitals, theatrical productions, and debate tournaments. She continued her work as a performer at the University of California, San Diego, appearing in multiple live productions. She says her first job as a UCSD College Ambassador, or tour guide, gave her the first opportunity to do live presentations to groups every day, and she hasn’t stopped since.
Partner / Instructor: Emmett ArmstrongRead Bio
Emmett Armstrong is an enthusiastic dancer from the Evergreen Ballroom. He was born and raised right here in the Rogue Valley. After living in the beautiful Jacksonville countryside for over 18 years, Emmett moved into Medford to get a taste of ‘city living’ and cut down on fuel expenses! In addition to dancing, Emmett enjoys being curious, having the newest gadgets, and driving with the car top down.
Emmett was homeschooled for the duration of his education, and although he has not had much personal experience with Sparrow Clubs, he is inspired by the idea of kids helping other kids. Emmett believes that Sparrow Clubs motivates children towards important values like industry, compassion, sympathy and love.
Because of Emmett’s love for dancing, volunteering to be a partner for DWTRVS was an easy decision. He has been dancing for about 3 years and his favorite dances are East Coast Swing and Waltz. For the past two years, Emmett has danced the weekend away at the Southern Oregon Music Festival, and looks forward to doing the same this year! Emmett would like to express his gratitude to Kathryn Young and Cori Grimm for helping with choreography, and to his partner, Kirstin O’Connor, for her patience and cheerfulness.
Mike Jacobson & Karen Knokey: Night Club 2-Step
Star: Mike JacobsonRead Bio
Mike is a lifelong resident of Southern Oregon, where he met the love of his life, Corina, to whom he has been happily married for 31 years. They have two grown children – Ashley Wears, who is an RN at RRMC, and Michael Jacobson, who is an assistant store manager in Fairbanks, Alaska. Both children were in Sparrow Clubs at Eagle Point High School.
He has been with Rogue Disposal and Recycling for 31+ years where he currently holds the position of supervisor for Rogue Shred, the document destruction company as well as the medical waste division and the commercial recycling.
Mike loves the outdoors, and fishing is one of his favorite pastimes. He also enjoys woodworking and spending time with his family. Although this ‘dancing thing’ is out of his comfort zone, Mike plans on winning the show! He is going to do this with the help of the best pro and dance partner, Karen Knokey. It’s called ‘getting out on those skinny branches.’
Partner / Instructor: Karen KnokeyRead Bio
Karen has been dancing for more than 20 years and loves all styles of dance and music. She and her husband, Donn, have been teaching West Coast Swing on Thursday nights at the Evergreen Ballroom for many years. They have been married for 43 years, but dating for 45 years. Dancing is a fantastic part of their life. They enjoy learning new moves to improve their dance, as well as passing on the new information to their students.
Donn and Karen have been part of many performance teams including: American Style Cha Cha and Rumba, Night Club Two-Step, Viennese Waltz and many others. They have participated in West Coast Swing and Night Club Two-step competitions in Sacramento, San Francisco, Reno, Portland and Phoenix, Arizona. Currently, one of their favorite West Coast Swing Conventions, is right here in the Rogue Valley, put on by SO Swing!
Robin Rasmussen & Mike Anderson: West Coast Swing
Star: Robin RasmussenRead Bio
Robin Opal Rasmussen was born and raised in Vancouver, Washington. She met her husband, Andrew, at a punk-rock music festival in 2004 and moved to Medford in 2006. They were married in Ashland in 2009 and have two amazing and rambunctious boys, Gabriel Dean, a 3rd grader at Grace Christian, and Jude Henry, three years old.
Robin is currently a licensed esthetician at The Nest Salon and Day Spa located in beautiful downtown Medford. She has been a professional makeup artist, specializing in weddings for the past 5 years. Robin and her husband also work together at Far West Finance, Inc., a family-owned business in Medford.
Robin discovered her love of makeup as a teenager when she began dancing competitively with the Heritage High School dance team in Vancouver. The best moment of Robin’s dance career was winning the 2004 national championship in San Antonio, Texas. She is ecstatic to be dusting off her dancing shoes for such a wonderful cause, and to once again combine her love of makeup and dance.
In Memory of Glena Rasmussen
Partner / Instructor: Mike AndersonRead Bio
Mike Anderson grew up in Southern California. In 1989, he moved to Medford. His first dance experience was at Rock N Rodeo in Medford. The music, energy and dancing was captivating. That is where his love for dancing started. It was at Rock N Rodeo that he met his beautiful wife and dance partner, Molly. Together they won a local dance contest and then became members of the Rock N Rodeo performance dance team. The team performed in Medford, Lake Tahoe and Las Vegas. It was during this time, that he was introduced to West Coast Swing (WCS), which became his favorite dance.
In about the year 2000, Mike and Molly were asked to substitute teach WCS at the Evergreen Ballroom. They discovered that they really enjoyed teaching dance. Mike and Molly are still teaching WCS at the Evergreen Ballroom on Thursday nights. They travel to many WCS dance conventions in California and throughout the Northwest.
They enjoy traveling, being with friends, working around the house, and of course, dancing! The friends they have made over the years through dancing are very precious to them. They consider their dance friends, not only wonderful friends, but as their dance family.
Ron Burgess & Cori Grimm: Tango
Star: Ron BurgessRead Bio
Realtor and Charity Auctioneer, Ron Burgess, and his wife, Pam, are well known in the Rogue Valley Community. Ron has called Southern Oregon home since 1968 when he attended Ashland Junior High School while his father served a tour in Korea for the U.S. Army. Following graduation from Nurnberg American High School in Furth, Germany, Ron returned to Ashland to attend Southern Oregon University, graduating with degrees in Education and also in Psychology.
Ron donates countless hours as an Auctioneer to such organizations as The Hillcrest Committee (American Cancer Association), Southern Oregon University and the University of Oregon Athletic Departments, Temple Emek Shalom and The Havurah Shir Hadash, Rogue & Art Center, Curry County FFA/4H youth auction, Kids Come First with Pete Rose, Oregon Hunters Association and others!
“The young people in our schools that are involved with Sparrow Clubs are setting examples for future generations on how to promote selflessness, service, and caring for others,” says Ron. He is proud to be a part of this year’s Dancing with the Rogue Valley Stars.
Partner / Instructor: Cori GrimmRead Bio
Cori is the office manager of the Evergreen Ballroom and the owner of Up And Dancing, teaching private and group lessons in Ballroom, Latin and Swing in Medford and Ashland. She has coordinated the Rogue Valley Youth Ballroom Dance Competition for USA Dance for the past three years. And, she has choreographed for Dancing with the Rogue Valley Stars for five years.
Cori’s life calling is to build community through partner dancing. Her emphasis is on social dancing — having fun is a must! But, she also enjoys the creativity of choreography. She loves to get people of all ages hooked on dancing and is thrilled to get to work with so many kind, fun and interesting people. Hooray for Ron and his sense of humor!
Dancing is a family affair. Cori is grateful to her supportive husband and dance partner of 20+ years, John Ourant, for keeping the twinkle in her toes. Cori and John are the proud parents of two (dancing) kids, Calin and Alex. Cori would like to give a shout out to her dad, Bill Grimm, and his wife, Marilee, who share her passion for dance and who do so much to support her and the whole dancing community.
Seth Phillips & Kristen Anderson: Viennese Waltz
Star: Seth PhillipsRead Bio
Seth Phillips was born in Lafayette, Louisiana. He came to Southern Oregon by way of his career. Seth is the weekend Meteorologist at KDRV NewsWatch 12. He realized his dream of studying and forecasting weather patterns as he was growing up in a place where severe weather is a common occurrence. Seth knew he always wanted to study the weather; but it wasn’t until he was told by a fellow classmate that he had a ‘voice for TV,’ that he realized he wanted to go into Broadcast Meteorology. Seth graduated from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette with a degree in Broadcasting, and also from Mississippi State University where he got his Broadcast Meteorology degree.
Seth is proud to call Medford his home and considers himself an outdoor enthusiast. When he’s not forecasting weather, he can be found running, hiking, skiing, or just enjoying the elements. Dancing is a new challenge. However, Seth has been a musician for over 17 years, so timing will be on his side. With a talented teacher and partner like Kristen Anderson, he feels confident that the dancing aspect will fall into place. Seth is proud to be dancing for Sparrow Clubs. Nothing is more rewarding to him than helping others in their time of need.
Partner / Instructor: Kristen AndersonRead Bio
Kristen Anderson was born in Salt Lake City, Utah, but moved around frequently with her family until she turned 11 and made the Rogue Valley her home with her mom and sister. She graduated from North Medford High School and has recently graduated from Southern Oregon University.
Kristen started dancing when she was 6 years old by imitating the dancing of her sister. Then at 7, started imitating hip hop routines from music videos and taught those routines to her friends to do for school talent shows. When Kristen turned 13, she grew tired of imitating the routines of other people, and started choreographing her own hip hop routines and performed those at school talent shows and local events.
At nineteen, Kristen met Brett Alleman, now her fiancé, at the Evergreen Ballroom and started taking lessons with him. She first learned Latin dances such as Salsa, Cha Cha, Rumba and Argentine Tango, then Ballroom and Swing thereafter. Kristen dances because it is the best way she knows to be self-expressive and feel alive! Kristen loves being involved in DWTRVS where she is able to share her passion for dance with so many people that have the compassion to give to something as amazing as Sparrow Clubs.