Dancing Stars set to shine for charities


Tyler Kuhn and Lori Ewald

DOVER — Dancing with the Delaware Stars is taking center stage Jan. 27 at Dover Downs Hotel & Casino.

Now in its ninth year, Dancing with the Delaware Stars, is a sold-out event despite adding more seats this year, raising money for two organizations — Mom’s House and the Greater Dover Boys and Girls Club.

Erik Kaufmann and Autumn Schneider

The annual event pairs prominent community members with professional dancers in a competition much like the long-running hit TV show. Eleven couples will compete for the coveted mirror ball trophy this year.

“The highlight is knowing all of this ridiculousness we are going to demonstrate on the dance floor translates into dollars which go back into our community to make it a better place. That’s an awesome feeling,” said Lori Ewald, brand awareness manager for High 5 Hospitality.

Mom’s House is a child care organization for mothers who need affordable child care while pursuing their education in preparation of gaining employment to be able to support their young families and the Boys and Girls Club is another child care organization providing care mostly or children from low-income households.

The dancing always grabs the headlines but the mirror ball trophy doesn’t always go home with the best dancer.

“We had our first meeting in October and I told everyone then that the goal is to dance great, but just putting on a great performance isn’t all it takes to win the big prize,” said organizer Terri Brown, whose husband Scott, managing partner of RF Book & Associates and WMG Advisors, and Autumn Schneider, president of Diane Drulis Dance Foundation, won the contest last year.

Erik Kauffman, of L&W Insurance, said the event will be his first time in a dance performance but he hopes that he and his partner Ms. Schneider will win big courtesy of the judges and audience.

“It’s a lot of hard work piecing together the choreography but it’s been very rewarding to see it all come together and I’m looking forward to everyone seeing the finished product,” he said.

“Hopefully we’ll be able to nail our routine in front of the audience.”

A big factor aside from nailing the routine is how much money each pair can raise. Last year’s event netted $200,000, the most in its history.

Brittany Faulkingham and James Collins

“It’s a fundraiser so the goal is to raise as much money as possible and the amount of funds raised by each pair is a third of their overall score,” Ms. Brown said.

The perfect score is a 30 and 10 points come from how the pair ranks in terms of money raised, 10 points are an average of the judges’ scores and the final component is the audience votes.

The pair that’s first to raise $10,000 gets the perk of picking a judge to sit on the panel who will hopefully award the couple a 10/10 and give less favorable scores to the competitors. But getting friends and family out to the event is also important to increase chances of winning.

“People love watching the performances and the competition aspect of it makes it so fun,” Ms. Brown said.

Jules Phillips and Maria Fry

“A lot of attendees know the dancers and know performing like this is outside of their comfort zone so it’s great to come support a friend or family member who’s putting themselves out there.”

Ms. Ewald said she never dances in front of anyone so the performance is going to be quite a challenge.

“I’m really looking forward to putting my arms up on that last move and taking a deep sigh of relief that all went as

Lt. Col. Ed Szczepanik and Stephanie Harrison

planned on that dance floor,” she said.

While the votes are being tallied, the event turns into a giant dance party letting the attendees show off their moves.

Dr. Catherine Wright, of Bayhealth Medical Center, has been among those in the crowd and performing for the first time this year with performing experience limited to dance recitals in childhood and drill team performances in high school.

“I went last year for the first time and really enjoyed it. It was so entertaining. It’s really upbeat and definitely resembles the TV version,” she said. “I planned on attending again this year but not in this capacity.”

A four-digit black tag — 3943 — will be auctioned off at the event and the highest bidder will not only receive the tag, but the number of votes matching their bid.

For those who were unable to purchase tickets before they sold out, online voting has been open for weeks, allowing pairs to rack up points before the big performance.

Tickets are also still available for the after party, which starts at 11:30 p.m. at Dover Downs.

Votes and tickets can be purchased at dancingdestars.org.

Dance Teams

• Kyle Sammons, Zumba instructor, Central Delaware YMCA, and Jessica Moyer, personal trainer
• Autumn Chalabala, director, Chesapeake Utilities, and Raykeem Ward, founder, Dreams of Hope and ELA teacher, Postlethwait Middle School
• James Collins, Delaware chief information officer, and Brittany Faulkingham, owner, The School of Ballet and artistic director, Delaware Ballet
• Lori Ewald, brand awareness manager, High 5 Hospitality, and Tyler Kuhn, community relations officer, Dover Federal Credit Union
• Donyale Hall, owner, Minority Contractors & Associates, LLC, and 17th District Senate candidate and Robert Sherrell of USA Dance
• Eric Kaufmann, L&W Insurance, and Autumn Schneider, dance instructor/choreographer
• Pam Marecki, assistant vice president Marketing Communications, Bayhealth Medical Center, and Ryan Batchelor, dance instructor/choreographer
• Jules Phillips, owner, Mimesis Window Tinting, LLC, and bartender, Roma/Sul Tempo, and Maria Fry
• Bill Schultz, athletic director, Smyrna High School, and Tricia Massey, ballet mistress and senior company member, ecarte dance theatre and preschool teacher
• Lt. Col. Edward Szczepanik, chief of wing safety, 436th Airlift Wing, and Stephanie Harrison, administrative and financial manager, 3AS
• Catherine Wright, M.D., ENT, Bayhealth, and Sean Floyd, lead fitness trainer, CNU Fit

Sean Floyd and Dr. Catherine Wright

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