Each year, community leaders wear their dancing shoes for the coveted winning title that is earned at the Dancing With Our Stars Gala. All this fun and friendly competition among participants benefits the Children’s Tumor Foundation and supports the Arkansas chapter’s research and mission: to end and find a cure for neurofibromatosis, a genetic disorder that disturbs cell growth in the nervous system, causing tumors to form on nerve tissue.
CTF also provides support for children and families affected by NF. A portion of the proceeds is donated for grants to send Arkansas teens to the International NF Camp.
We’re putting each star in the spotlight and introducing them on our blog. They will compete for the dancing title and mirror ball trophy at the Sept. 10 gala, in addition to soliciting contributions + votes prior to the event.
MEET NATALIE ROCKEFELLER
(partnered with Chris Hoffman of Fred Astaire Studio)
Natalie Rockefeller volunteered at her first political fundraiser when she was just 7 and has been involved in different causes ever since. Since her husband, Win Rockefeller, is a lifelong Arkansas resident dedicated to various organizations, Natalie naturally champions for the causes important to him. Before making Arkansas her permanent home and long before the birth of their twin boys, Natalie completed two summer internships in Washington, D.C., with focus on public relations and political science. After moving to Little Rock, she worked on Congressman Vic Snyder’s campaign and spent three years working in the Arkansas House of Representatives. She has served in various capacities for different organizations, including the UAMS Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute Envoys board, Fashion Event committee for Easter Seals and multiple Arkansas Symphony Orchestra Opus Ball committees. She and win chaired the 2013 RockStar Lounge benefiting the cancer institute.
Natalie is honored to be competing in this year’s Dancing With Our Stars. She has enjoyed learning more about the Arkansas Children’s Tumor Foundation and is looking forward to being involved with an organization that is doing so much to change the lives of so many children, both in Arkansas and across the country.
Lesley Oslica, president of the Arkansas chapter, says it has been a gift to get to know Natalie. “She is not just giving of her time in her dance lessons, but she is also going above and beyond the call by helping secure sponsorships and other wonderful items for our Super Silent Auction,” Lesley says. “Getting to know people like Natalie is one of the silver linings of living with NF. She is the kind of person that reaffirms the idea that there is so much good in this world and provides hope that together we can make a difference in the lives of those affected by NF.”
Inviting Arkansas: Why do you choose to live and volunteer in Central Arkansas?
Natalie Rockefeller: I grew up in Southeast Missouri and moved here after graduating from Arkansas State University, but Little Rock has always felt like home to me. I met and fell in love with Win and we have two beautiful little boys that were born here in Little Rock. I volunteer because I can and, most importantly, because I want to. If I can help someone or make a difference in someone’s life by being an advocate, raising money or learning to ballroom dance then I will and I will give it my best.
IA: What is a type of dance you’ve always wanted to learn?
NR: Win and I attend a lot of formal events in Little Rock that have a band and include dancing, but we rarely dance. I would love for us to learn a waltz. I think I would really enjoy him leading me around the floor. He would be the ultimate dance partner, and I would never pass up the opportunity to look up at his handsome face.
IA: What is your dance claim to fame?
NR: I wouldn’t call it a claim to fame, but when I was in grade school, I danced in a school talent show to Milli Vanilli’s “Blame It On the Rain.” I’m so thankful cell phones didn’t include a record button back then, and even more thankful that social media didn’t yet exist.
IA: Why did you agree to be a Dancing With Our Stars contestant?
NR: My top priority is being the best mom I can be to my boys. Win and I are very selective of the organizations that we involve ourselves with because we want to be 100 percent dedicated, but we also know that it’s potential time away from our boys. We’ve not been involved with the Arkansas Children’s Tumor Foundation in the past, but when I met Lesley, her passion and dedication radiated. The woman runs marathons and rode in the Race Across America to raise awareness for NF. She truly believes that a cure for NF will be found during her lifetime and she does everything she can to help make that dream a reality. The first time I met her, I knew that I wanted to be involved in an event that she was leading, because she is a wonderful leader.
IA: What do you most look forward to about the evening?
NR: Actually meeting some of the children and their families who benefit from this event. I may be dancing in front of several hundred people, but those kids and their parents are the brave ones.
IA: What are you nervous about?
NR: I’m not nervous. I agreed to dance at this event to help raise money and awareness, but this event isn’t about me. It’s about the kids and families that will benefit from it.