By Art Hunter
The “Dancing with the Stars Extravaganza,” Clermont County’s own celebrity dance contest, will be held Saturday, March 2 at the Eastgate Holiday Inn and Suites.
This will be the fourth annual edition of the event, which raises money for the Clermont County DD Gift of Time Respite Cooperative Program. The program provides a place for children and adults who have a developmental disability to participate in organized and fun activities while their caregivers are taking of chores such as shopping, running errands, and attending to other important tasks they may not be able to take care of while they are caring for their relative with disabilities.
“We usually host one Respite Saturday a month at the Wildey Center,” Lisa Davis, Clermont County DD director of community relations said. “This fund-raiser helps pay for activities and for the respite coordinator that works for our agency.”
Davis said that each year she asks local “stars” to participate. The contestants are given free dance lessons at The Dance Club studio in Anderson and get sponsors to support the event. Supporters can buy “votes” on the Clermont County DD website or at the event. The votes are sold four for a dollar, and the contestants with the most votes at the end of the dance contest win the coveted Mirror Ball Trophy.
“Some people volunteer to dance because they have attended an event in the past, but most people we just approach,” Davis said. “After they laugh and tell us ‘no, I couldn’t do that,’ they decide that it’s not too far out of their comfort zone to try.”
Couples participating in the competition this year include Lori Howell, a licensed massage therapist from Miami Township and Don Justice, of Cabinet Makers of Milford; Kristin Bednarski, Clermont Sun reporter and William Rover, owner/operator of Jersey Mike’s Subs in Mason; Tim Dunn, of Xavier University Center for Faith and Justice and Halen Dunn, CCDD Bridges to Transition coordinator; Todd and Julie Schreiber of Ohio Valley Goodwill Industries; Meg Kasarcik, CCD retiree and Chris Brown, CCDD behavioral support specialist.
All the couples are being trained by Jeff Bill of The Dance Club Studio. Each year, Bill and the staff at the studio prepare the contestants with group and individual lessons.
“Everyone has a lot of fun with the event because it is a little unusual, and a little competitive, which appeals to people with jobs that don’t offer a lot of competition,” Davis said. “This puts a little fun into raising money for a good cause.”
Bill will also return this year as a contest judge. Kathy Lehr, Vice President of External Relations and Marketing for the YMCA of Greater Cincinnati, will also be a judge.
Channel 5 Meteorologist Steve Norris will return this year as master of ceremonies. Norris has worked with Clermont County DD at many events. This will be his third year as master of ceremonies at Dancing with the Stars.
A raffle will be held throughout the night and will feature gift baskets made by Clermont County DD staff members, as well as donations from the community. Dancers have also made donations of free massage therapy visits, a painting by local artist Greg Werling, and more, to the raffle.
Tickets for this event, which is both great fun and worthwhile, are only $50 each and include dinner, entertainment, and the chance to watch a talented group of local dancers compete. All proceeds benefit the Gift of Time Respite Cooperative Program.
Doors open at 5 p.m. The dance contest will be held after dinner. Open dancing will be held from 9-11 p.m. To purchase tickets online, visit the Events page at www.empowersmeboard.org. Tickets may also be purchased through March 1 by calling (513) 732-5028 or by emailing Suzanne Diesel at firstname.lastname@example.org.