Celebrity Dancer Chmerkovskiy Drums Up Support for Troops
Wednesday, October 16, 2013
By Joseph Andrew Lee
Sometimes you don’t know how good you have it until you get a little perspective.
Internationally-known dancer and choreographer Maksim Chmerkovskiy, who emigrated to America from Ukraine as a teenager, couldn’t imagine an all-volunteer force while growing up in the Soviet Union.
“Where I grew up it was mandatory [to serve in the military],” Chmerkovskiy said. “I know what it’s like to have friends and family be forced to be part of the military – to have to deploy – and get no benefits for it. The way the American system is set up to where you volunteer – that’s incredible.”
To thank those who serve, Chmerkovskiy is acting as the spokesperson for USO Dance for the Troops, a campaign encouraging communities, organizations and schools to host dances and raise funds for USO programs and services that support troops and their families.
From now through the end of the year, volunteers hosting USO Dance for the Troops events can create a unique page at USODance.org and follow the easy-to-use tools to create, promote and deliver a successful dance event.
Chmerkovskiy admitted that he lives a nice life, but says it wasn’t always that way.
His father, Aleksandr Chmerkovskiy, believed productivity and excellence was the recipe for success, but became disillusioned with the communist way of life after being denied entry to college for being Jewish. The United States offered the promise of a better life for his two sons.
“He was right,” said Chmerkovskiy, who refers to himself today as a typical American. “Both my brother [ballroom dancer Valentin Chmerkovskiy] and I found great success in ballroom dancing in America and with many other things as well. We are both very fortunate to have so many skills and dancing is such a beautiful profession.”
USO Dance for the Troops allows Americans to turn their parties and dances into events that will help make a difference, said USO Senior Vice President and Chief Development Officer Kelli Seely.
“Whether you’re hosting a dance, attending one or even inviting friends to a watch party for one of your favorite dance shows, the money you raise will help create some life-changing moments for so many troops and military families,” she said.
And those life-changing moments are why Chmerkovskiy joined the cause.
“I love and support what America stands for and this is my country,” Chmerkovskiy said.
“I feel protected here because there are people around the world fighting for my way of life. When they protect us, we need to take care of them. Organizations like the USO are incredible. What they do is amazing. They give every one of us the opportunity to do something right.”
“Do the right thing,” Chmerkovkiy said, “Dance for the Troops.”
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