Dancing with the Hopkins Stars: Catch Dance Fever with Darren

Date: April 15, 2015

“If I could get over the fear of playing in front of fans and getting tackled by a Ray Lewis-size athlete, dancing in front of others shouldn’t be too bad now. Unless the crowd plans to tackle me.”  –Darren Brownlee, Johns Hopkins Medicine

Why have Darren Brownlee and Erika Benson been practicing, practicing, practicing? To win Dancing with the Hopkins Stars, of course. For the past six months, Darren and Erika have been dancing the two-step at 6 a.m. — training, laughing and doing push-ups (after every blooper) — to prepare to compete in Dancing with the Hopkins Stars. Couples can win by raising the most money for their United Way initiative and by having the best dance routine, based on judges’ and mobile votes during the show. And yes, the prize is a coveted mirror ball trophy.

This exciting dance competition is part of Johns Hopkins Hospital’s annual United Way campaign. Darren and Erika will take the stage for Emerging Leaders United (ELU), a United Way group of young professionals who give back to the community through volunteering and philanthropy.

“I agreed to participate in Dancing with the Hopkins Stars because I truly appreciate the cause and see that this event is for the greater good! Wanting to represent the Emerging Leaders United initiative was a no-brainer!” said Darren, who also serves on ELU’s committee.

What does Darren love best about Dancing with the Hopkins Stars? Besides the good cause, it’s having fun with his partner, Erika, whom he met in 2012 when he started Administrative Residency at Johns Hopkins. “Erika is driven, funny, competitive, a perfectionist and has an A-type personality, which are all traits I admire. Being so similar, I believe having a partner who is just as motivated to do her best as I am made the process so much easier.”

It’s not all sparkles and spandex, though. “The most challenging part is getting your body to function at 6 a.m. in the morning,” said Darren. But this former college football player is ready to show his stuff. “Dancing in front of others shouldn’t be too bad now. Unless the crowd plans to tackle me.”

Darren and Erika will compete with nine other Johns Hopkins couples at this FREE event on Tuesday, April 28, at 5:30 p.m. in Turner Auditorium in the Miller Research Building at The Johns Hopkins Hospital. It is an event not to be missed. Watch a dance clip and find out more.

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