Individually, we are many things! We're lawyers, educators, professional communicators, accountants. The list goes on. But collectively, we are lifesavers!
Together, we are raising funds and awareness for the Children's Miracle Network Hospital in our area and dedicated to giving every kid the childhood they deserve. We're also cheerleaders, dancers and innovators. We're committed to one cause and we do it all #ForTheKids.
To raise funds that support Children's Miracle Network at Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children by building a community focused on health and hope.
Chris Dawson, Co-Overall Chair
Chris is a sixth-generation Floridian, born in Pensacola, Florida, and raised in nearby Santa Rosa County. He received his undergraduate degree in civil engineering from the University of Florida.
While at UF, Chris was active in student government, Florida Blue Key, Dance Marathon benefiting Shands Children’s Hospital at UF and Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity. He graduated magna cum laude from the University of Alabama School of Law. He pursued a joint degree at UA, also obtaining his master’s degree in civil engineering with a focus on construction methods and management. Chris also worked as a graduate assistant in the University of Alabama College of Engineering and served as adviser to the University of Alabama Dance Marathon benefiting Children’s Hospital of Alabama. Though a Gator at heart, he has occasionally been known to utter “Roll Tide!”
Chris is now an attorney and lobbyist at GrayRobinson, P.A. He primarily focuses on lobbying and government relations for public and private sector clients at the executive and legislative levels of state government, as well as before political subdivisions of the state, including counties, cities, airport authorities, transportation authorities, port authorities, school districts and water management districts.
Ingrid Tojanci, Co-Overall Chair
Ingrid graduated from the University of Florida in 2012 with degrees in Political Science with a concentration in International Relations, Business Administration, and French. The following year, she graduated with a Master of International Business degree from Hough Graduate School of Business at UF and, most recently, completed the professional MBA program also at Hough.
During her undergraduate years, Ingrid was active in multiple organizations including Florida Blue Key, Student Government, Delta Delta Delta sorority, Dance Marathon at UF, and various philanthropies. She first experienced DM at UF as a dancer and a co-chair of fundraising for the 2009-2010 DM. Because “standing for the kids who can’t” was one of the most rewarding experiences of her life, she continued to participate as a Morale Staff member. In 2016, Ingrid joined the Florida Miracle team and served as the Recruitment and Dancer Relations Chair. In 2017, she served as the Events Chair.
Ingrid previously worked in the finance organization at the Walt Disney Company and was an active member of the company’s community service planning group. Currently, she is part of the finance organization at Verizon and continues to be active in corporate citizenship efforts.
Bio coming soon!
Leigh Anne Thompson, Communications Chair
Leigh Anne is a Tallahassee native, and a graduate of Florida State University with a degree in business management. Go Noles!
Born as a premature baby herself, Leigh Anne dedicated time volunteering for the March of Dimes throughout her time in school. She joined Central Florida Dance Marathon in 2017, after moving to Orlando and hearing about the great things Florida Miracle does for children.
Leigh Anne is currently a business development specialist at GrayRobinson, P.A in Orlando, Florida.
Valentine Particini, Communications Captain
Val was born and Worcester, Massachusetts and became a Floridian 24 years ago. He graduated from Florida State University in December 2012 with a degree in Political Science and Economics.
Since moving back to Orlando in 2014, Val has been an active member in the community as a volunteer with Big Brothers Big Sisters. Val joined Central Florida Dance Marathon in 2016 and hopes to take this experience, and his motivation “For The Kids,” even further in 2018 to communicate the amazing accomplishments of Children’s Miracle Network in the Central Florida community.
Currently, Val is a Paralegal at Parkway, and is studying to take the GMAT so he may pursue an MBA degree at Florida State University. When he isn't spending time volunteering, he enjoys outdoor activities, soccer games, the beach and reading.
Dancer Relations Team
Julia Hanusa, Dancer Relations Chair
Julia is a Wisconsin native who has called Florida “home” since 2005. She has fallen in love with Orlando more and more every day since moving here in 2010 to attend the University of Central Florida.While a student at UCF, Julia was involved in Knight-Thon, UCF’s Dance Marathon, as a dancer, the Family & CMN Hospitals Relations Director, and the Mini Dance Marathon Director. She held the honor of being top fundraiser for three consecutive years and of being the top alumni fundraiser for Knight-Thon 2016. She was also a teaching assistant for microbiology and immunology labs and a member of Alpha Epsilon Phi Sorority. She graduated from the Burnett Honors College with a degree in biomedical sciences in May of 2015.
Currently Julia is an assistant store manager for Starbucks, a career she started in Bradenton, Florida when she was 16 years old. When she is not fundraising “For The Kids” or sharing her passion of coffee with others, she enjoys being a dog mom to her rescue Jackson, cooking, baking, playing music and traveling.
Lauryn Parra, Dancer Relations Captain
Lauryn is a native Floridian, hailing from the tiny, Southernmost island of Key West. She is an alumna of the University of Central Florida and its dance marathon, Knight-Thon, which she participated in each year she attended UCF as both a Team Captain and dancer.
Lauryn currently resides in Melbourne, Florida where she is an elementary school teacher, Girl Scout troop leader, dog mom and beach bum. This is her second year with Florida Miracle and she is excited to continue being a volunteer, advocate, and passionate supporter of Greater Orlando Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals!
Taylor Harmon, Events Chair
Taylor was born in Charleston, SC but has lived in Central Florida for the past 15 years. She graduated from the University of Central Florida with a Bachelor of Science in Health Information Management.Throughout her time at UCF, Taylor was an active member of multiple student organizations, including Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority, UCF's Homecoming and Knight-Thon, UCF's Dance Marathon benefitting Greater Orlando Children's Miracle Network Hospitals. She was a proud member of the Knight-Thon Morale team for 3 years.
Currently, Taylor works within the Health Information Management Office of Orlando Health. When she is not at work, Taylor loves to travel! Although she has traveled to 8 countries and 42 states, she is most passionate about helping the local kids at Arnold Palmer Hospital. She is excited to be apart of the Florida Miracle team for the second year and looks forward to helping even more miracles happen!
Jimmy Carlsen, Events Captain
Jimmy is a Florida-native and earned degrees in both Civil Engineering and Political Science from the University of Florida. He then attended the Hough Graduate School of Business at UF and earned his MBA focusing in Real Estate and Finance in 2011.
At UF, Jimmy was involved with many organizations including UF Student Government, Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity, and Dance Marathon at UF. Jimmy's Dance Marathon experience includes serving as the Overall Operation Chair in 2009 as well as two years as a Morale Captain. This will be his second year involved with Florida Miracle.
Professionally, Jimmy is a construction project manager for Walt Disney Parks & Resorts, focusing on new and renovated retail and food & beverage experiences. He has run over 35 half marathons and 5 marathons, but Dance Marathon is the race truly closest to his heart.
Stephen McLaughlin, Events Captain
Steve was born and raised in West Palm Beach, Florida and is a Construction Management Planner at Walt Disney World. He attended the University of Florida where he completed his Bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering and Master’s degree in Community Sciences.
During those years in college, Steve was very active in many student organizations. He served as the Vice President of Alumni for Florida Blue Key Honorary, President of his fraternity – Beta Theta Pi, as well as several roles in the University’s Homecoming and Gator Growl events.
Steve was also very involved in the University of Florida’s Dance Marathon. He was a two year dancer, family relations and morale captain, and also served as the 2012 Overall Chairman of Morale. For the last two years, Steve has served as a Morale and Events Captain for Florida Miracle.
Christine Smith, Events Captain
Christine was born in Pennsylvania but grew up in Lakeland, FL and considers herself to be a true Floridian. She is an alumna of the University of Central Florida's Rosen College of Hospitality Management where she earned a Bachelor of Science in Event Management. During her time at UCF, Christine was an active member of the Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority and Knight-Thon. Go Knights!
Currently, Christine works in Sales and Marketing at Universal Orlando Resort. She is passionate about all things tourism and travel.
She is excited to be apart of the Florida Miracle team and is looking forward to helping make miracles happen!
Chris Walker, Sponsorships Chair
Chris was appointed partnership development manager for the Orlando Magic in January 2016, returning him to Florida where he was born and raised in Gainesville, Florida. Chris received his undergraduate degree in sport management with a minor in mass communications at the University of Florida, and then went to pursue his MBA at the University of Alabama. While at the University of Florida, Chris was active in student government, Florida Blue Key, Dance Marathon benefiting Shands Children’s Hospital at UF and Theta Chi fraternity.
With more than five years of experience in sports marketing handling corporate partnerships, sponsorship strategy, contract negotiations, account management and premium seating, Chris' responsibilities with the Magic include creating co-promoted and co-branded marketing campaigns that will encompass branding awareness, traffic driving retail promotions and cause marketing efforts with a community relations emphasis.
Before assuming his current role with the Magic, Chris had served more than three and half years with Learfield Sports in three separate capacities from May 2012 to December 2015: corporate sales assistant at the corporate offices in Plano, Texas, the account executive at Coyotes Sport Properties in Vermillion, South Dakota and then the business development manager with MVC Sports Properties in St. Louis, Missouri.
Kevin Craig, Sponsorships Captain
Kevin was born and raised in Jacksonville, Florida before moving to Orlando to attend the University of Central Florida, where he earned his Bachelor’s degree in Political Science. While at UCF, Kevin was active within the Student Government Association, Sigma Nu fraternity and worked in the university’s News and Information Office.Currently, Kevin serves as the Director of Public Policy for the Central Florida Hotel & Lodging Association.
In his spare time, you can catch Kevin on the golf course or in Jacksonville, watching his beloved Jaguars win football games.
Kevin is excited to be involved with the Florida Miracle team to help make miracles happen here in Central Florida!
Hillary Thornton, Sponsorships Captain
As a life-long Gator, and following in the footsteps of her father and sister, Hillary graduated from the University of Florida in 2015. She obtained a degree in Political Science, a minor in Public Leadership, and certificates in International Relations and Public Affairs.
This is Hillary's seventh year of Dance Marathon involvement. She served Dance Marathon at UF for all four years of undergrad in multiple capacities, including Morale Staffer and Entertainment Captain. Further, this is the third year in which Hillary has been a part of the Florida Miracle family. She was on the inaugural Florida Miracle team as the Recruitment and Dancer Relations Captain and served as an Events Captain for the event last year.
Currently, Hillary is attending the Florida State University College of Law and plans to graduate in 2019. She is very excited to continue the momentum from the previous Florida Miracle events and can't wait to see what the Central Florida community can accomplish for the kids at Arnold Palmer Hospital this year!