Stars With Our Stars to Benefit Meals on Wheels
Writer / Krista Shields
Community celebrities are using the dances of old to contribute to Meals on Wheels of Hamilton County with the first-ever Dancing with Our Stars presented by St. Vincent. Eight community celebrities and eight professionals are busy preparing for the Thursday, Sept. 4 event at the Ritz Charles of Carmel from 6-9 p.m. The evening will feature a slate full of entertainment.
“We balance our income through grants, donations, and events,” Meals on Wheels Director Beth Gehlhausen said. “We just got done with the Bowl-a-Thon and we wanted something new, something unique. No one, to my knowledge, does this… and it’s fun.”
Celebrity dancers, who were asked to raise a minimum of $1,500 prior to the event, will perform ballroom dances with professional dancers in hopes of winning the grand prize, judged by a panel of professional judges, a People’s Choice award, voted by the those in attendance, and/or the top fundraiser, determined by funds prior to and during the event.
“I have been putting posts on Facebook,” Todd Thurston of Hare Chevrolet said. “I also set up a GoFundMe page and have been sending out emails and Twitter updates.”
Hare Chevrolet has been volunteering to drive for Meals on Wheels, which is how Thurston became familiar with the organization. Thurston, who is paired with professional dancer Dianna Miller of The Dance Center in Lapel, was recommended due to his “Thursty Thursday” videos on his Facebook page, which featured him dancing around the office on Thursday.
“The one that probably got the whole thing started was when I jumped on the desk,” Thurston said. “I like to have fun.”
Thurston, along with his competitors, will receive 10 one-hour training sessions in order to learn his dance, which is the Foxtrot, before the two-minute routine is showcased. “We want to put on a good show,” said Miller, who has been dancing professionally for seven years. “He’s stepping up to the challenge. He’s ready to go, and it has been great so far.”
According to dancing professional Ed Godby-Schwab of the Dance Center, the celebrities have their work cut out for them, learning everything from technique and footwork to style and frame.
The cost of the tickets is $50. The event will include a cocktail hour with heavy hors d’oeuvres, the eight couples dancing, entertainment from Circle City Dance Company, and an awards ceremony. Brandon Bennett of Noblesville Parks Department will emcee the event. The other dancers include: Amy Delucia of Allisonville Nursery, Jessica Rodgers of CVS Pharmacy, Betsy Russell (retired), Krieg Devault, and Julie Schnieder of St. Vincent Carmel Hospital, Alaina Shonkwiler of City of Noblesville, Jeff Warner of Katz, Sapper & Miller, Todd Thurston of Hare Chevrolet and Gary Fammartino of St. Vincent Fishers Hospital. The professional dancers include: Ed Godby-Schwab of the Dance Center, Rob Jenkins of Riolo Dance; Monica Lung of Riolo Dance, Diana Miller of The Dance Center, Xavier Medina (independent), Scott Shook of Starlight Ballroom, Yulia Shook of Starlight Ballroom, and Chris Williams of Riolo Dance.
“I have a 90-year-old grandma in Kokomo, who can get out, but when she can’t, she relies on other people,” Thurston said. “This is for other people’s grandmas. I have become aware of the hunger issues in Hamilton County through the Boys and Girls Club, and I think it is important to find a way to give back.”
Gehlhausen said that since this is a first-time event she would be “thrilled if they netted $25,000.”
To vote for your favorite celebrity or professional or to support the organization, go to wedoauctions.net/dancingwithourstars or link from the event’s Facebook page.