On the last Saturday of March for the past five years, the annual event has been celebrated locally, but not always at the Illinois site. According to Rita Bailey, coordinator of the "Stars" extravaganza, the success of the affair and its increased popularity have produced changes. The fundraiser has been modified during the last couple of years by growth in the number of the contestants, interest, location, sponsorships and raised monies.
In the spring of 2007, a few dancers and local "stars" engaged in a quest to raise money and awareness in the battle to defeat cancer at Madison Hall in Paducah. Sponsored by Lourdes hospital for the annual McCracken County Relay For Life, volunteers were paired with trained instructors to put their best foot forward in an effort to garner support for the America Cancer Society.
This year, 20 local amateur contestants, after four months of practice, attired in fancy costumes, performed well-rehearsed dances in the center of the spacious ballroom with smooth professional hoofers as partners. Winning was not based upon a unique dance performance, but solely on individual fundraising. Chosen in October, each of the "stars" recruited pledges through community solicitations and items for a silent auction.
Winner of "Dancing With Our Stars 2011" was Dr. Peter Locken, followed closely by Karen Hogancamp and Dr. Polly LeBuhn. State Rep. Brent Housman and his daughter, Allie, were voted fan’s favorite by the audience in their re-enactment of Cinderella’s theme.
According to Bailey, "This year’s beautiful event surpassed our $100,000 goal by $32,000 thanks to each and everyone involved, from the Gold and Silver Table sponsors to the Dollar Girls to the many volunteers who waited tables and bused dirty dishes!"
The evening began with lively music by the Cruisers prompting everyone’s toes to tap. Classy hors d’oeuvres and dessert tables staged by Morrison Food Service and An Elegant Affair enticed guests to nibble in between the competition acts. Suzanne Farmer, master of ceremonies and "DWOS" alumna, graciously and enthusiastically kept the show moving.
The panel of light-hearted judges, Dr. Lisa Lasher, Johnette Worak, and Dr. Daniel Howard, also alumni, handed out high scores and witty compliments to the smiling, wary contestants.
"I was so nervous," confessed H.B. Banks, co-owner of SuperValu, "even though I practiced for months. I didn’t want to mess up in front of all those people."
However, he had worried needlessly as he executed his rhythmic night moves perfectly in front of a standing room only crowd of over 700.
It was truly an enjoyable and entertaining evening of fun for an excellent cause. If you missed it this year, don’t make the same mistake next year. Gary Adkisson, general manager of The Paducah Sun, and his wife, Glenda, agreed to join the Stars after attending the 2010 show. Be a participant, contributor and supporter in the fight against cancer....maybe even a "star."