Dancers prep for celebrity competition
by From staff reports
April 27, 2012 12:00 AM | 6487 views | 0 0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Michelle Bowden, League member, and Brian Dixon of Daystar Dance Academy prepare for competition.<br>Cherokee Tribune/Special
Michelle Bowden, League member, and Brian Dixon of Daystar Dance Academy prepare for competition.
Cherokee Tribune/Special
CANTON — Anticipation is building as celebrity dancers and their partners prepare for Saturday night’s “Dancing for the Children” competition, the Service League of Cherokee County’s event to benefit children in need in the community.

The seven pairs of dancers will compete before an expected sell-out crowd of more than 400 at the gala event at the Northside Hospital-Cherokee Conference Center at the Bluffs in Canton.

One couple will win, taking home the title for helping raise money and showing off their dance moves at what is anticipated to be a fun-filled event.

The “Dancing for the Children” fundraiser is the second year the League has had the completion and the local Service League’s 46th Annual Ball. It is set for 6 p.m. to midnight.

The competition’s seven couples have volunteered their time to support the League’s cause. Each one was asked to raise $2,500 in ticket sales and sponsorships.

Patterned after the popular television show, “Dancing with the Stars,” this year’s event features some real-life local celebrities.

Celebrity dancers and their partners are:

* Tim Prather, Cherokee County Fire and Emergency Services Chief, and Laura Mikszan, Fit Body Bootcamp at World of Gymnastics and Cheer.

In September 2011, Prather was appointed as the fire chief of Cherokee County.

Prather was raised in a “firefighting family,” bringing more than 33 years of experience to Cherokee County.

At the age of 13, he began participating in the Volunteer Rescue Unit in Pickens County alongside his father.

In 1977 when he was a high school senior he signed up to join the United States Marine Corps.

Upon discharge from active duty, from 1980 to 1987, Prather worked in law enforcement with the Jasper Police Department, Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office. and Pickens County Sheriff’s Office.

In 1987, Prather graduated from Reinhardt College with an associate degree in Criminal Justice. Chief Prather began his career with Cherokee County as a firefighter with the Oak Grove Fire Dept. at Station-1.

In May 2006, Chief Prather accepted the appointment to the position of Divisions Chief of Operations and in 2008 appointed to Assistant Fire Chief of Department.

Mikszan has been involved in gymnastics, dance and cheerleading for several years as an owner, coach and student/athlete. She was a collegiate gymnast, cheerleader and dance team choreographer throughout her tenure at the University of South Carolina, where she earned a bachelor degree in Advertising and Marketing.

After graduation, she began her business career in purchasing and strategic planning for a major corporation, while maintaining coaching and choreography positions for gymnastics and dance organizations.

Fulfilling her entrepreneurial spirit, she opened World of Gymnastics and Cheer in 1993 and to expand to World of Kids Athletic Campus.

She is on the Board of Directors for the Boy’s and Girl’s Club of Cherokee County, co-president of Woodstock High School PTSA, member of the Woodstock Community Business Association, Cherokee Chamber of Commerce, and a charter member of the Character Counts Program and Pursuing Victory with Honor sportsmanship program.

Laura enjoys working with special needs children and was voted “Professional of the Year” for the National Autism Society. Other honors include YWCA “Women of Achievement Award” and 2008 Cherokee Chamber of Commerce “Entrepreneur of the Year” award.

*Amy Turcotte, Female Sports Director at Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and David Cannon Jr., Cherokee County Solicitor General.

Amy Turcotte of Canton is married to Brian Turcotte, and they have four children, Jesse, 18, Griffin, 11, and twin girls Keaton and Campbell, 8. They live in Canton. Amy is an active member at Antioch Church.

Turcotte works for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes in Cherokee and Cobb counties. She is active on several boards, including the Cherokee County Malon D. Mimms Boys and Girls Club Board of Directors, Bend Your Knees Board, Collins Dixon Events, the Fields of Faith Leadership Support Team and the Cherokee County Youth Football Association where she serves as president.

She is a Cherokee County Chamber of Commerce Steering Committee member for Teen Leadership Program and a 2012 Cherokee County Chamber Member Chairman’s Council Member

Cannon was a Canton Greenie at Canton Elementary School, and a Cherokee Warrior at Cherokee High School.

He graduated from the Terry College of Business at the University of Georgia with a business degree in Management Information Sciences in 1992. He earned his Juris Doctor from the Walter F. George School of Law at Mercer University in Macon in 1995.

David is married to Jory Cannon, and they have two children, Lane and Del. They are members of Canton First United Methodist Church and they live in Canton.

In his spare time, David enjoys grilling out with his family, SEC football, any Apple-related gadgetry, golf, and skiing.

* Michelle Bowden , League member and Brian Dixon of Daystar Dance Academy.

Bowden is a current Service League member. She earned a bachelor degree in Management from North Georgia College.

She has been married to husband Jeremy for 11 years. She worked as a coordinator of new business in a finance company before deciding to stay at home and raise her children: Madison, 7, Aubrey and Asher, 1.

Her middle child, Aubrey, was diagnosed with cancer at the age of 11 months and passed away at the tender age of 23 months, after seven rounds of chemotherapy and a liver transplant.

Bowden is thrilled to be “Dancing for the Children” and is dancing both in honor of her living children and in memory of her daughter, Aubrey. She believes strongly in helping those children who can’t help themselves.

Brian Dixon attended Jacksonville State University majoring in drama, with a minor in English. He is a graduate and former faculty member of Sprayberry High School in Marietta, where he was the head varsity dance team coach.

He led the dance team to three national titles and second place in the Georgia State Dance Championship for two consecutive years. Brian was awarded Best Hip Hop/Funk Choreography at the 2005 National Championships. At the 2004 Nationals, six members of his team were named to the All American squad, leading them to Honolulu, Hawaii to perform in the 2004 Pro Bowl

Brian currently is a lead dance instructor at Daystar Dance Academy, while also serving as the head dance instructor for the Company Competition Hip Hop and Musical Theatre teams at the Kennesaw Recreational Center. He teaches recreation hip hop, jazz, ballet, and lyrical dance classes. Brian resides in Atlanta.

* Darrek Cornelison, vice president and city executive of Community Bank and Trust, Canton, and April Turner, League member and MODA Creative Artists.

Cornelison grew up in the Clayton Community of Cherokee County and still resides there with his family. His talents developed early and as a child he could play almost any instrument that he picked up. He plays piano, organ, mandolin, fiddle and accordion along with several other instruments.

Darrek has been married to Carla Satterfield Cornelison for 27 years and they have two children. Brady, age 23 is married to Beth Whitmire Cornelison and lives in Ball Ground with Darrek’s first grandson, Brock. Bailey is 19 and attends Georgia Highlands College and works for Northside Pharmacy in Canton.

Darrek and his daughter sing professionally and started a southern gospel trio called Daily Bread in April 2011. They have opened for groups such as The Isaacs, Mark Wills and others.

His banking career started 30 years ago at a small community bank called Citizens Bank of Ball Ground and he is still in the banking business today.

Turner is a fashion/editorial photographer whose current artistic work is primarily influenced by over 30 years of dance and performance experience, which includes ballroom/latin, salsa, jazz, and hip-hop.

She has been a dancer for several jazz and ballroom/latin performance companies, including the University of Georgia Ballroom Performance Group while she was in college. She has traveled to Curacao to perform at the World Salsa Congress-Curacao Salsa Tour and has trained across the country with renowned choreographers such as Wade Robson, Brian Friedman, and her childhood idol, Tina Landon, Janet Jackson’s long-time choreographer.

* Will Hopkins, owner of Fleu de Coop Antiques, and Michelle Rigo, Ballroom Dance Clubs of Atlanta.

Hopkins is a native of Cherokee County, and grew up in the Hickory Flat community. He graduated from Cherokee High School and attended Columbus College at University of Georgia, majoring in Pre Med and Biology.

As the owner of Fleu de Coop in Kennesaw, he specializes in antiques and architectural design work. Member of He is a member of New Light Baptist Church and volunteers for a number of civic and charitable organizations including American Cancer Society and working with the elderly.

He has a dog named Meme and loves to fish and go on road trips with friends

Rigo carried her dancer’s spirit throughout college. A chemistry major with a biology minor at Piedmont College, her future plans didn’t involve dance.

However, while looking for a job in Jacksonville, Michelle found herself going back to dance again. She popped into a dance studio with an application and, after receiving her training, became a ballroom dance instructor.She began teaching with Ballroom Dance Clubs of Atlanta five years ago.

She took her dancing feet to Wisconsin for a year, but missed Georgia weather and her friends at Ballroom Dance Clubs of Atlanta.

For Rigo, who gave up scientific chemistry to focus on dance chemistry, her favorite part of teaching ballroom dance is “watching someone get it for the first time,” she says. When she doesn’t have her dancing shoes on, Rigo loves to read science fiction novels, cook, and bake. Michelle is currently an instructor at Ballroom Dance Clubs of Atlanta.

* Wanda Roach , ERA Sunrise Realty and John Vasicak, owner of Cherokee Rhythm and Smooth

Roach, a realtor with ERA Sunrise Realty, has lived in Cherokee County for 38 years and was married to the late Judge C. Michael Roach. She has two children, Bryan and Tracy and one grandson, Michael.

She is an honorary member of the Service League of Cherokee County and past president, on the Board of Directors at Cherokee Bank, the Canton Main Street Program, the Cherokee Association of Realtors, the Development Authority of Cherokee County and The Canton Downtown Development Authority where she serves as chairman.

She is active at the First Methodist Church of Canton.

Vasicah said at around 30-something, he met up with some new friends and discovered they danced ballroom. It was interesting enough to watch, but he didn’t sign up for lessons for another two years.

Now he loves to help others learn to dance.

* Amanda Slauson, Northside Hospital – Cherokee Executive Assistant, Administration and Matthew Walters, Cherokee Rhythm and Smooth.

Slauson has over nine years of experience in healthcare with Northside Hospital-Cherokee.

She earned her bachelor of business administration in management from Kennesaw State University. She is a member of Beta Gamma Sigma, The International Honor Society.

She is currently the executive assistant to former celebrity dancer and CEO of Northside Hospital – Cherokee, Billy Hayes. Amanda has held various positions within the organization.

The oldest of six children, she is well organized, punctual, and an over-achiever. She is actively involved with United Way of Cherokee County. She enjoys music, dancing, and junk food. Slauson resides in Ball Ground with her future husband and three dogs.

Admission is $50 per ticket or $1,000 for a VIP table. Cocktails start at 6 p.m., followed by dinner at 6:30 p.m. and the celebrity dance competition at 8 p.m.

For more information, email Lisa Woodruff at

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