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Lily is from Okinawa, Japan. She grew up the oldest of seven children and she still works to keep the family close. Lily came to the U.S. to attend college. She first met her husband at a beach party in Hawaii. Lily Ashcom and Dr. Thomas Ashcom have been married for 34 years. They have one daughter, Naomi, and claim five grandchildren ranging in age from 4-14 years. Dr. Ashcom is the CEO of the Kansas Heart Hospital in Wichita.
As a youngster, she loved the time she spent at the beach with a teacher, collecting shells. She imagined her life as a Conchologist. Her beach time now is comprised of trips to Hawaii, which she loves to generously share with family members.
Lily is deeply connected to the arts and service organizations in the community and has a heart for helping children and their families. When she has a chance to do anything - she says playing tennis with friends tops her list, along with reading.
Lily also expressed her passion for helping those in poverty, and those struggling with mental illness. She was so grateful to find a way to help, that she's making her dancing debut right here!
Let's root for Lily!
Dan and his wife Shannon are beautiful examples of the power of dance. He says it was friends that made the introduction.. but it was the dance floor that introduced romance to the couple. They've been married six years now and still enjoy dancing and competing together. Dan says one of the standout moments of their career was the 2015 Heart of America Silver Championship. That means all 9 dances!
Dan started serious training at Wichita State University, before that his only exposure had been in Music Theatre while in high school. He took ballroom training nearly all the way through the time it took to get his Master of Business Administration, sidelined only by a nasty car accident.
Dan was 23 when he returned to dance, and was offered a teaching position almost immediately, and he's been competing professionally and taking students to pro-am competitions since 2004, and, of course, he finished grad school and has his degree. He could have aimed for law school, or done other things with his degree in business, but Dan says he's learned that he loves to teach. He says he is his "best version of himself" when he's teaching, he's more patient, has more empathy, his focus is on the positive, he describes a kindness factor.
For anyone too afraid of their own shortcomings to start learning Dan says it's his job to use choreography to showcase the skills of the student, and that is another part of this that he enjoys. Even his children learn from him, he says he dances with 12 yr old Lily to have fun, she especially likes Country Western, so when she competed in last year's Sunflower Junior Championship he didn't expect her to win, but she did!
By the way, registration for this year's Sunflower Dance Festival is now open, June 27-30, Drury Plaza Hotel, the event welcomes competitors, students and spectators
Is there a stage he hasn't danced on yet, but would like to? He mentioned two, including the Blackpool Dance Festival in England. He says its invitation only.
For Dan, the decision to take part in this Breakthrough fundraiser was easy. He had witnessed the heartbreak of a family member who struggled with a homeless, bi-polar parent. He says Breakthroughs assistance with hunger, homelessness and mental illness is a perfect fit for his fundraising efforts.