PLYMOUTH — The third annual Dancing with the Stars extravaganza was held Saturday night at the Swan Lake Resort, netting more than $68,000 for a local organization.
The event is a major fundraiser for the Marshall County Neighbor-hood Center and the Five-Star program at Lincoln Junior High in Plymouth.
One of the organizers and Neighborhood Center Board President, Chad Barden, opened the program with the announcement that they had pledges of $55,000.
The public could vote for their favorite dance couples at $20 per vote prior to the event.
During the event, a silent auction and live auction netted close to an additional $10,000, according to Barden. The auction items were all donated from the community. Donating his services for the live auction was Dave Goebel.
More pledges made during the night brought the total even higher, ending with a final tally of over $68,000. The first year, the event was able to raise $40,000 and the second, $55,000.
Introducing the center’s director Sarah Hendrix, Barden said, “Under her leadership, we’ve had a fantastic year.”
He indicated that with the tough economic times, they are now serving 1,500 clients each month. That total is up from the 900 served last year.
“That number is almost 5 percent of the population of Marshall County,” he said.
Also speaking was center Case Manager Sarah Hill. Hill shared a few stories of clients that have participated in the process now offered. Services include providing food, clothing and utilities assistance to help bridge families out of situational and generational poverty.
Five-Star organizer Justin Maust expressed his thoughts on the impact of the program that teams volunteer coaches with five to eight kids.
“These kids will run through brick walls for their coaches,” he said. “Programs don’t change kids. People change people.”
Lincoln Junior High Principal Dan Funston shared his first-hand experiences of students involved in the program and how their lives have been changed. Currently there are 65 kids in the program at Lincoln Junior High.
Barden said the Neighborhood Center will be investigating the need for affordable housing in the community.
He said, “We can not embark on this challenging mission without your help.”
Dan and Charlotte Tyree were the Master and Mistress of Ceremonies.
Dan Tyree said, “This is much easier than dancing.”
He was among those who danced during the very first event and part of the winning couples with the most votes.
Sixteen dance numbers, ranging from freestyle waltzes to Hip Hop to Salsa kept the audience cheering. In this portion of the event, professional dancers were paired with a community “celebrities.” The winners of the dance contest were the two couples with the most votes. First place was captured by Devan Garcia and Esther Thompson with 542 votes. Second place went to Robert Pickell and Mary Raimondi with 473 votes.
Other dancers included: Members of the LifePlex Dance Academy (Angela Blancovargas, Mewsette Cartwright, Dana Ferman, Nikki Koontz and Annika Schmit); Michael Downs and Margaret Roahrig; Chris Collier and Larry Holloway; Kevin Guy and Kathy Overmyer; Hip Hop & Tap Performances by LifePlex Dance Academy (Joseph Cartwright, Michael Cartwright, Cecilia Delinski, Quincy Hess, Ashton Robertson, and Alexandra Jeffirs, Angela Blancovargas, Bob Pickell, and Annika Schmit). Additional professional and celebrity dancers included: Lynne O’Brien and Albert Hanselman; Patrick Pendexter and Jane Faulstich; Joy Carter and Mark Ringenberg; and Mewsette Cartwright and Drew Hettich.
The couple’s completion featured Dan and Nancy Schmelter, Dennis and Francie Beville, and Robert and Chris Pickell.
This year’s youth performers were Cameron Carter and Emily McKenzie dancing to a swing number.
Choreographers for the dancers include Marcia Heintzberger, Leanne Senter and Angela Blancovargas.