John Joseph Teng is representing Sunrider International for the 2015 Dancing With the South Bay Stars Competition which is being presented by the Torrance Cultural Arts Foundation. John is extremely fortunate to have been paired up to dance with the very talented and beautiful, Stacey McKenzie.
Founded in 1982, Sunrider International is a global leader in the health and beauty industry with customers and business builders spread throughout 50 countries and territories around the world. Formerly employed as Sunrider International’s Sales Manager for North America for the last 8 years, John is now used his professional Civil Engineering license as Sunrider’s World Real Estate Internal Auditor. John will celebrate 11 years of marriage by the date of the dance competition and he and his beautiful wife are the parents of 4 children.
John has chosen to align himself with a local non-profit organization called “Asians for Miracle Marrow Matches” (A3M) as his charity of choice for this dance competition. A3M is a bone marrow recruitment center that helps patients with blood cancers, with a particular emphasis in reaching out to people of mixed ethnicities who have a more difficult time finding a genetic match for bone marrow transplants. The focus of this charity is very near and dear to John’s own heart as his only sibling, a younger sister named Elizabeth, passed away from the blood disease Leukemia, when she was only 5 years old. Both he and his sister are of mixed ethnic parents as John’s father is Chinese and his mother is German/Irish.
At the very young age of 6 or 7 years old, John can remember endlessly long hours sitting with his father on the hard vinyl lobby chairs of an empty waiting room during the late night hours in a hospital in Indianapolis, Indiana. He says that he can still smell the tin canned soup that he and his father ate from hospital cafeteria vending machines for many late night dinners waiting for updates from the doctors. John and his father not only ate dinners at the hospital, but they also slept there. John can remember late nights trying to fall asleep on the hospital lobby sofas. There was a small carousel for children just outside the lobby’s waiting room window that kept rotating all night and every time the dark shadowy silhouette of a particular carousel horse came in front of his view he thought it was a monster that was coming to hurt him. John and his father didn’t get much sleep during those very hard years. His sister spent the last three of her 5 years of life suffering from the effects of Leukemia before the disease eventually took her life.
John still remembers the first formal suit that he ever wore at the age of 8; it was a polyester three-piece solid navy blue. He remembers feeling a little embarrassed wearing it with all the big adults complimenting him on how handsome he looked in it. He only recalls wearing that suit once – the day that he attended his sister’s funeral.
John is dancing in this competition so that hopefully other families with loved ones stricken with a blood cancer will not have to suffer through the unthinkable hardship that he and his parents went through with the death of his sister and their daughter, Elizabeth. John says that if even only one person is able to find a healthy bone marrow match because of the money that is raised through this dance competition (and more importantly, the people who willingly volunteer to provide a cheek swab to representatives of A3M for future donor match possibilities), then all of the effort that he and his dance partner have invested into this competition will have been worthwhile!
According to A3M, mixed heritage patients have the hardest time finding a bone marrow match, so A3M helps by diversifying the registry through “Be the Match” drives which are operated by the National Marrow Donor Program, since 1991. A3M operates underneath the non-profit umbrella of the Little Tokyo Service Center (LTSC).
For those who would like to make a donation to John’s dance competition please visit TorranceArts.org. Every dollar donated will count as one vote towards John’s final dance score. The Torrance Cultural Arts Foundation will make donations to the charities of choice of the top three scoring dance couples.