LOS ANGELES, California — Recently returned missionary Benji Schwimmer, a 22-year-old California native, was named “America’s favorite dancer” last night in the season finale of the FOX television series “So You Think You Can Dance.”
Benji, whose story was told yesterday in Meridian Magazine “Benji Schwimmer — Dancing His Heart Out” was one of two LDS dancers who made it to the final four contestants in the competition. His cousin and lifelong dance partner Heidi Groskreutz , who was featured last week in Meridian, was the other LDS member in the final four.
More than 16 million television viewers voted last week to determine the winner of the contest. Benji had been a crowd favorite all along because of his technical expertise and his personality on and off the dance floor. He won the hearts of girls across America when he told the audience about coming home from his mission to find a “Dear John” wedding announcement in his mailbox.
He was not shy about talking about his religion on the air, and because of his example people across the country have said they have learned more about the LDS Church, and have a more favorable impression of Latter-day Saints, than they had before watching Benji.
A multi-time national champion in swing dance competitions, Benji choreographs his own routines as well as the routines of other swing dancers. He is the founder of the humanitarian organization D.E.M.A.N.D. — Dancers Everywhere Making a Difference.
He has promised to share part of his $100,000 cash winnings with his cousin Heidi. Other prizes include a new car and a year’s employment dancing for Celine Dion’s Las Vegas show.