By Alisha McDarris
For Hometown News
The Rumba, Salsa and Foxtrot. Sequins, glitter and silk. Months of practice perfecting complicated dance steps will finally pay off in the grand event known as Dancing with the Martin County Stars.
This is the third year for the fundraiser hosted by the Martin County Healthy Start Coalition and Scott Berry, executive director, believes it will be better than ever.
"I am very excited," Mr. Berry said. "I think this year we are going to reach a new level of success both in entertainment value and fundraising."
The idea to produce the fundraising event, based on the popular televised competition Dancing with the Stars, came when the Healthy Start Coalition started searching for a new way to bring in money to support their goal of ensuring every baby in Martin County is born healthy.
"We were looking for something that had entertainment value but could also be a fundraiser for us," Mr. Berry said. "We wanted to do something unique."
So they asked people of notoriety from the community to volunteer to raise money and learn a few new dance steps for the chance to claim that coveted mirror ball trophy and help a good cause.
From May to September, business owners, lawyers, even community volunteers lace up their dancin' shoes and attend 18 or more lessons with their dance instructor partner.
"We have a good-natured, fun-loving, competitive, dedicated group devoting themselves to this endeavor," Mr. Berry said.
Those determined and talented competitors are exactly why he believes this year is going to be the best yet. Already half of the tickets available have been sold and more than $20,000 has raised. Mr. Berry is confident they are on track to break last year's $45,000.
Up to three winners will be named at the event: one who has raised the most money for Healthy Start Coalition, one who has the highest dance scores, and one with the highest combined numbers.
Rosalind Neilen, who owns Rosalind's Fitness Studios, is one of the competitors and is having a great time learning the new dance moves and supporting her community.
"It's a bit of a challenge," Ms. Neilen said, but she says the "fun" in fundraiser is what makes the experience a win-win: everybody has a good time and a deserving nonprofit benefits, too.
The dance instructors are from Fred Astaire, Craig's Dance Studio, Crystal Ballroom and Dance Til' You Drop Productions and the judging panel includes Peter and Jennifer Jones from Starstruck Theater and Elena Simonova and Joe Wynes, professional dancers. Eve Samples, the reigning champion, will also be present to relinquish her title to the new winner and professional dancers will also be showcasing their talents.
"We are going to have a profoundly entertaining event," Mr. Berry said.
Tickets for the event can be purchased on www.lyrictheatre.com or by calling the box office at (772) 286-7827. Patrons can assist their favorite team in reaching their fundraising goal by mentioning their names when ordering.