TERRE HAUTE —
Terre Haute “stars” grooved to the music in front of more than 1,000 people Friday night, all in support of an important cause.
13 “stars” — people in the community that are making a difference in their line of work — took to the dance floor in the Hulman Center for the much-anticipated seventh annual Dancing with the Terre Haute Stars, presented by Chances And Services for Youth and First Financial Bank.
Dancers, donning their fancy outfits, entertained the audience with the cha-cha, swing, waltz, tango, foxtrot and other ballroom dances that brought the crowd to cheers.
The event is a fundraiser benefiting CASY.
Kim Perkins, of Union Hospital, was the winning dancer, followed by Ron Hernandez in second and Brenda Bonine in third. All together, the event raised more than $132,000.
“This is by far our largest fundraiser,” said Brandon Halleck, CASY’s chief operating officer. “It would be very hard to continue operation without this,” Halleck added.
Last year, the event raised $126,000, Halleck said. Over the last six years, it has raised more than half a million dollars, he said.
“This event allows us to continue supporting ... the kids and the families in the Wabash Valley,” Halleck said Friday afternoon.
“Without this event,” he added, “hundreds of kids that we serve each year would lose out.”
The funds are used for programs such as summer camp, car seat program, Camp RAVE, after-school programs, among others.
Going into the event Friday afternoon, Halleck said $111,000 was already raised from tables sold and money raised by the participants.
The event began at 5:30 p.m. with hors d’oeuvres, cocktails and the opening of the silent auction. Dinner was scheduled at 7 p.m. and dancing started at 8 p.m. The master of ceremonies was Julie Henricks.
The night includes plenty of opportunities for fun, but it’s still a competition.
Contestants were given points for every table of eight sold, for every other dollar they raise and for the dance performance. They also received 50 percent of the fair market value of any item they donate for the silent auction.
The star who earns the most points is named the winner.
One of this year’s judges, Amy Anderson of First Financial Bank, was also last year’s winner. She gave a little perspective on what the contestants may be feeling before the event.
“I was probably more nervous than I had ever been,” Anderson said of how she felt last year.
“I felt very small in that great big space,” she added.
Anderson said that performing in front of an audience gives a “completely different perspective” from rehearsing “in front of the mirror.”
“Once I stepped on the dance floor ... I was just focused on what I was doing,” she said adding that she tried to “pretend” that the eyes of one thousand people were not on her.
Anderson was excited and had “been excited all week” about the event.
“It would be nice to sit back and get to watch and not be a bunch of nerves,” Anderson said.
This year, as a judge, “I want to see [participants] have fun,” Anderson said.
“Did they rehearse? Are they having fun?” Anderson said of what she looked for.
And even if the contestants made a mistake, the key is to just move on and smile.
“It’s about presentation,” Anderson said.
The participants were given 10 hours worth of dance lessons from The Dance Studio.
One of the dance instructors was Halleck.
“You get to know them [the stars]. You become friends with them,” he said of practicing with the stars.
And Halleck appreciates the support from the community.
He said that it is so reassuring to find so many people giving a great “amount of dedication and work” to the event.
It feels “good knowing that so many people support your cause,” Halleck said.
Tribune-Star Reporter Dianne Frances D. Powell can be reached at 812-231-4299 or dianne.powell@ tribstar.com.