June 07, 2018
Taylor Porter employee and professional dancer Joanna Chustz, a software support specialist in the Firm’s IT department, performed at the 12th Annual “Dancing for Big Buddy” fundraiser, held April 28, 2018, at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center on LSU’s campus. The event raised more than $300,000 for the Big Buddy Program.
Chustz partnered with Stephen David, senior vice president and regional retail manager of Hancock Whitney Bank’s Baton Rouge, Lafayette, Lake Charles and Houston regions.
Chustz has been a dancer at Jeffie Jean Dance Studio for 24 years and a dance instructor for 13 years. She has been a feature dancer in numerous productions throughout her years of training, and transitioned to a professional dancer six years ago. Jeffie Jean Dance Studio was founded 77 years ago in Baton Rouge by Jeffie Jean Bolton, and is located on South Harrells Ferry Road. This was Chustz’s first performance with Dancing for Big Buddy.
“I had watched my dance teacher and mentor, Jerisse Grantham, practice and perform with her partners for Dancing with Big Buddy for several years and always wanted to do it because it looked like so much fun,” Chustz said. “I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to participate when I got the call because who wouldn’t want to do something they love and have it benefit such a great cause?”
Chustz said her favorite moment of the night was watching the Big Buddy program children dance during the event’s intermission. “At rehearsal and at the show, their dance put a huge smile on my face,” she said. “Not only was it adorable, but I realized those kids and so many more like them would have more opportunities open to them because of the money and awareness the Star dancers raised for Big Buddy."
Modeled after the hit ABC show, "Dancing with the Stars," Big Buddy's annual fundraising event showcases area professional dancers partnering with Baton Rouge community leaders and prominent citizens. Prior to the event, the professional dancers help train their partners to present live ballroom performances.
The Big Buddy Program provides ongoing asset-based programming for youth ages 5 to 18 focused on building resiliency against poverty, crime and academic failure, and Big Buddy has been serving young people in the Baton Rouge community for more than 35 years at an average of approximately 500 young people per week.
The core services include mentoring, extended learning, and workforce development.
Click here for more information on “Dancing for Big Buddy”
Special thanks to Alpha Media and Sharon Turner for their permission to publish these photos.