TERRE HAUTE —
The seventh annual “Dancing with the Terre Haute Stars” concluded Friday night at Hulman Center with an emotional win and a record amount of money raised.
The fundraiser benefiting Chances and Services for Youth raised a record $132,000, “the most we’ve ever raised,” said CASY’s Chief Operating Officer Brandon Halleck.
“We were just so thrilled that the community came out in such support for the families and kids we care for,” he said.
The funds raised go in support of programs such as Camp RAVE and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Vigo County, among others.
The event was sold out, with more than 1,000 people in the audience as 13 contestants showed off their dance moves in a friendly dance and fundraising competition.
Kim Perkins of Union Hospital emerged as champion.
“It’s absolutely wonderful,” Perkins told the Tribune-Star as she held her trophy late Friday evening. “It feels awesome to be able to raise the money for Chances and represent Union Hospital and also have fun all at the same time,” she continued after a brief pause to acknowledge those who congratulated her.
Perkins, who performed the two-step after the intermission, told the audience that participating in the event was “huge to me.”
She couldn’t help but get emotional as she told the audience about recently losing her father.
“I know my dad is with me tonight,” Perkins said to the audience after her performance.
Also supported by family and friends was second place winner Ron Hernandez of Ultimate Fitness and Bariatric Center.
A middle section of the venue was filled with Hernandez’s fans who cheered loudly for him before, during and after his performance.
And as Hernandez — who teaches zumba and other fitness classes — executed smooth, confident moves, someone from the audience was heard to say “nicely done.”
His supporters also brought props.
After Hernandez’s salsa dance, his fans unanimously held up signs that read, “10,” telling the judges that he deserves the perfect score.
And he got it from the judges, who had been awarding 9’s and 10’s to contestants all night.
“That was no mild salsa. That was extremely hot,” said contest judge Amy Anderson.
“To be honest with you, I’m impressed that you can fit in those pants and that shirt,” joked Ryan Adamson, another judge. Hernandez wore a tightly fitted black shirt and matching pants.
Sheriff Greg Ewing, the third judge, also thought the performance was “fantastic.”
Before the performance, Hernandez told the Tribune-Star that he felt “great and honored. ... I’m very excited to perform for a great cause.”
Afterward, he said he was “relieved it’s done.”
Hernandez was more confident about his dancing ability than the “fundraising part,” he said.
But it turned out fine.
“We did try to raise as much as we can for a great cause,” Hernandez said after the event.
Another contestant who also did a lot of fundraising was Brenda Bonine of First Financial Bank who placed third.
“It feels great,” the foxtrot dancer said. “It just gives you a great feeling to know that we’re going to help children have a positive experience through CASY.”
Although Bonine said that dancing in front of 1,000 people was “nerve-racking,” the judges noticed that she was “comfortable” in the dance floor and was “having fun.”
Another star who also had fun was Heather Dalton Miklozek of Indiana State University. She performed the samba ,armed with “secret moves” such as a split and a finale that brought her “upside down with your leg up and holding on for dear life,” Miklozek said.
Music, dance, jokes and fun characterized the event, made possible by “great staff and volunteers,” Halleck said.
“It’s one of the most fun fundraisers you will ever attend,” he said.
Tribune-Star Reporter Dianne Frances D. Powell can be reached at 812-231-4299 or dianne.powell@trib star.com.