Virtual events planned in lieu of live Dancing with Delaware Stars

Scott Becker and Jessica Moyer show off their championship trophies after winning the 2020 Dancing with the Delaware Stars competition at Dover Downs’ Rollins Center. (Delaware State News file photo)

DOVER — Add next month’s Dancing with the Delaware Stars to the live events canceled by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Originally set for Jan. 30 at Dover Downs’ Rollins Center, the mega-popular fundraiser, which last year earned approximately $240,000 for Mom’s House of Dover and the Greater Dover Boys & Girls Clubs, will not be held in person in 2021.

But the event’s chairwoman, Jacqueline Mayan, said organizers hope to run some smaller virtual events in the first couple of months of next year.

“We did try to hold off as long as we could. We knew we wouldn’t be able to do it with over 1,000 people. So we thought, well, maybe by the time January comes around, it might be OK to do a hybrid (event), where we could do partial live and partial virtual,” Ms. Mayan said.

“But then (in early November), we decided it’s not going to be safe to do that, as the (COVID-19) numbers were starting to go up again. And so we decided, ‘OK, we’re not quite sure yet how we’re going to handle it.’ And it wasn’t for lack of trying. I tried to figure out, how can we do a competition? It doesn’t have to be the same exact way. Maybe we can stream from multiple locations. So in a nutshell, it turned out that I needed to produce a television show.”

With that idea a bit daunting, hopes are now for several smaller events done virtually.

“People could still sponsor, get some visibility and be able to support these two organizations. We haven’t finalized that as of yet. But we’ll have a series of premier events or be a little bit more VIP. And then, we’ll have some general events. Maybe we’re thinking we do something at the end of January and early February to kick off the first event. And then maybe a couple more mini-events. … Maybe we can also incorporate the families,” Ms. Mayan said.

“So we’re trying to brainstorm how we can put together activities where we can do that. We have a long list of things we want to do, but of course, we have to make sure we vet through them and not wind up having to produce a television show.”

Ms. Mayan said she has admired the work of other events that have gone to virtual formats this year.

“That gives me some hope that we’ll be able to put something on that people enjoy and feel that they’re getting value from their sponsorships,” she said.

Just as charity events have had to switch gears this year, the charities themselves have had to pivot for their much-needed funding. Ms. Mayan sits on the board of Mom’s House of Dover, which offers single parents the opportunity to achieve their educational goals by providing child care services for their little ones from birth through age 4 free of charge. Dancing with the Delaware Stars is its main fundraising event.

“Luckily for Mom’s House, they do have contingency funds in place for something like this. But they did have to change a little bit of the structure, so that they can start applying for grants and get purchase of care, those kinds of things, to help to supplement that. And so both organizations are also now helping first responders and essential workers during this time. So that’s why we decided instead of just canceling it, let’s do something because we still need the funding to be able to continue to provide those services,” she said.

For more information on future Dancing with the Delaware Stars events, visit dwdstars.org.