Steve Ranson
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April 25, 2013
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Dancers put final touches on their moves


Ten local celebrity contestants in this year’s Dancing with the Stars, a fundraiser for the Fallon Swing team, have been patiently practicing their steps and moves for weeks in preparation for this year’s annual show on May 4 at 7 p.m. at the high school gym.

The celebrity dancers are each paired with a member from the Fallon Swing Team who will effortlessly guide them through a specific song such as a West Coast Swing or the Tango. This year’s females celebrity dancers include Emily Alexander, Peg Buckner, Yvonne Mori, Terri Mulder and Sandra Trotter, while the males are Michael Hewitt, Shawn Purrell, Craig Schank, Ben Trotter and Zip Upham.

Today the men put their best resumes forward, and on Wednesday, the LVN will feature the women.

Michael Hewitt

Where you were raised: I was born and raised in South Dakota on a ranch.

Education background: I studied engineering and photography at South Dakota State University.

Brief Highlights of your younger years: 1n 1970, I moved to the San Francisco Bay Area. I worked for a computer company for a short time. Later, went to work for a photography studio. I eventually became partners and then bought the business. I married and had two wonderful children. In 1997 I met Peg Buckner. I moved to Fallon and we married and own Picture This! Studio & Gallery together.

My hobbies and interests: I like to garden, ride bicycles and trap shoot.

I represent: I represent Picture This! Studio & Gallery.

Shawn Purrell

Where you were raised: Yerington

Education background: University of Nevada, Reno, and Sierra Nevada College.

Brief highlights of your younger years: I grew up on a small ranch in Yerington. I participated in different sports and loved being in the outdoors.

What has brought you to stardom?

I’m not there yet, however, I had a taste of it the time my saddle bronc horse pitched me over his head leaving my boots in the saddle, but landing a “10” in my socks.

My hobbies and interests: Most of my time is spent following my daughters to the different activities they are involved in like soccer and dance performances, which allows me to run off any prospective suitors.

The biggest influences in my life: My family — which keeps me on my toes — which is good for dancing.

I represent: Numa Elementary School

Dancing skills: I can tap my foot and clap on the right beat occasionally; however, all those rodeo dances certainly added to my ability to Swing with the right partner.

Your inspiration and courage to do DWTS comes from: I wanted to dance with my two beautiful daughters and embarrass them one more time publicly before they left Fallon to attend college at the University of Utah.

I think the other contestants need to know that I’m: Not below trash talking and tripping while they dance since they possess all the dancing skills.

Your inspiration and courage to do DWTS comes from: When I was asked to participate in DWTS, at first I just laughed! As I seriously considered the request, I thought it could be fun. I have a great dance partner in Mikala Torres. We hope to surprise everyone with a great performance and win!

I think the other contestants need to know that I’m: I wouldn’t want to give away any secretes to give the competition any advantage.

Craig Schank

Where were you raised? Fallon.

Education background? Bachelors of Science from BYU, Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from Colorado State University.

Brief highlights of your younger years: At the age of 11, I was the Nevada Junior Livestock champion showman for my prize hog. The trophy is proudly displayed today and a place has been cleared next to it for the DWTS championship trophy.

What has brought you to stardom? When Tom Bergeron of ABC’s DWTS called me to co-host the show … or maybe he was asking advice about when to neuter his cat. Can’t remember!

My hobbies and interests? I like fixing “stuff” whether with a wrench (inanimate things) or with surgical instruments (animate things).

The biggest influences in my life? My lovely wife, Debbie, and my five children and nine grandchildren.

I represent: Lahontan Valley Veterinary Clinic

Dancing skills? One semester of “Social Dance” and P.E. credit from Brigham Young University. Racket ball classes were all full.

Your Inspiration and courage to do DWTS comes from? Si Robertson AKA as Uncle Si of Duck Dynasty.

I think the other contestants need to know that I am: Current on all vaccinations including rabies.

Ben Trotter

Where were you raised: Woods of Alaska, cattle ranch in Wyoming, basically everywhere!

Education background: Associate in Criminal Justice, Bachelor in Finance, Master of Business Administration

Brief highlights of your younger years: I had seven other siblings. I loved reading, writing, hiking, camping, telling stories and playing sports.

What brought you to stardom? I believe my average looks, lead-foot dancing style, underwhelming physique and monotone voice have aided in my meteoric ascension.

My hobbies and interests: My daughters, playing guitar, outdoor activities and physical fitness.

The biggest influences in my life: My girls and my wife are the biggest current influences. My mother taught me to be a good person and my father taught me honesty and integrity.

I represent: The people of Churchill County through the Sheriff’s Office and those who revere the Constitution of the United States.

Dancing skills: I’m much better at watching dancing. If I have to dance, it’s all about survival!

Your Inspiration and courage to do DWTS comes from: Inspiration — I’m honored to have been invited and want to do my best for my partner, Emma. Courage — The Force is with me!

I think the other contestants need to know that I’m: Catlike with an aerodynamic haircut! No really,I’m hoping all of the contestants enjoy this once in a lifetime experience.

Zip Upham

Where you were raised: Born in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; raised as an “Army brat”; spent high school years in a small town in Maine.

Education background: Philosophy degree from Emory University in Atlanta.

Brief Highlights of your younger years: Elevated “being a smart alec” to a fine art, and still graduated high school at the top of my class. Also, 12 years in the Navy “seeing the world,” most of it from Fallon.

What brought you to Stardom: Had the honor of emceeing the Fallon DWTS two years ago and made the flippant comment: “I can do that!”

My hobbies and interests: Bicycle riding, endurance horse racing, reading and playing rhythm guitar.

The biggest influences in my life: My wife, Nancy, who lets me do a lot of stupid stuff.

I represent: NAS Fallon as the base spokesman, the county’s Library Board, the Churchill County Search and Rescue team, and the Nevada Division of the National Pony Express Association — none of which has endorsed my participation in DWTS.

Dancing skills: Able to make anyone look good doing the “ballistic shag.” I was once called to on the street in Antalya, Turkey, as “Mr. Dancer”!

Your Inspiration and Courage to do DWTS comes from: a sign along the Tough Mudder race course that said,’ “Sometimes it is important to bite off more than you can chew….”

I think the other contestants need to know that I’m: doing the Jive, not as a high-end dance exhibition, but more of a forced workout program, spear-headed by untiring high school kids.



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The Nevada Appeal Updated Apr 25, 2013 07:01PM Published Apr 25, 2013 06:50PM Copyright 2013 The Nevada Appeal. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.