Sep. 22—Local dancers are in the final stages of a months-long effort to compete against each other on stage and — at the same time — offer a huge boost to programs which provide major community services to the region via the United Way of Southern West Virginia.
The ninth season of United Way of Southern West Virginia's Dancing with the Stars is scheduled for Friday, Sept. 23 at the Beckley-Raleigh County Convention Center.
The event is the organization's largest fundraiser of the year. Monies raised from Dancing with the Stars go directly into the annual campaign fund, allowing United Way of Southern WV to serve dozens of nonprofit partners in Raleigh, Fayette, Nicholas, Summers, Wyoming, Mercer and McDowell counties, as well as the Greater Bluefield area.
The six dance teams for 2022 are:
—Team Tiffany Kapp and Chris Grose, with choreography by Lexi Clay.
—Team Teri Harlan and Rod Perdue, with choreography by Jill West.
—Team Caitlin Galatic and John Galatic, with choreography by Madison Jackson.
—Team Miranda Elkins-Arvon and Kevin Rasmussen, with choreography by Brittney Fitzgerald.
—Team Dr. Bonny Copenhaver and Joseph Brouse, with choreography by Laurie and Darrell Fuller.
—Team Lisa Walker and Dr. Alex Daniele, with choreography by Abby Honaker.
A panel of people from the community will select a "People's Choice" winner based on the number of $5 votes received for each couple. Monetary voting will continue throughout the evening until after the last couple has danced.
"Our dancers are committed to raising funds to support the communities in which they live and serve," Trena Dacal, executive director of UWSWV, said in a press release. "They have worked and are continuing to work very hard to raise funds for the improved health, education and financial stability of every person in every community of southern West Virginia.
"We hope they remember this season with great enthusiasm, that they have made new friends, and learned new skills, but ultimately that they know what great impact they have made in their community."
Fayette County's duo, Harlan and Perdue, said last week that preparation for the event has gone well.
"It's going good," Perdue said. Of the duo's choreographer, he said, "She's awesome. Jill's really, really, really good. She's taken an effort to kind of make it a little slower for us. She's a good teacher."
"She's really good instructor," added Harlan, who said she and her partner will compete to the backdrop of four songs with an undisclosed theme this Friday in Beckley.
While trying to make the time to rehearse "has been kind of challenging," Perdue said, "I think we're going to be all right. Of course, we'll be nervous. It is what it is. Game day's game day. What happens happens.
"It's been an experience, trust me. And just the support we've gotten from the community, it's been unreal. Local businesses are great giving percentages of sales. It's been really eye-opening."
"We have an amazing community," Harlan said. "We live in an amazing community. We've had so much support, and people have been excited for us and just so willing to give.
"For me because I've worked for the United Way before and I know exactly where that money goes, it's just really meaningful. I know that every penny we raise is going to go back to kids or elderly and really good organizations throughout the community. It's rewarding."
"And I'll be happy when it's over," she added with a laugh.
People can still donate to their favorite couple online until noon Thursday. After that, donations will be accepted at the event only.
Those who still wish to make a donation in their support can call Harlan or Perdue. There is also a PayPal page on the duo's Facebook site at United Way of Southern West Virginia DWTS 2022 Team Teri & Rod.
Judges will select a "Judge's Choice" winner for the dance portion of the contest.
"The first eight seasons of Dancing with the Stars were incredibly successful," Dacal said in the release. "Having a signature fundraising event like Dancing With the Stars makes a great impact in our community. Bringing back Dancing with the Stars to our area after a pandemic-led hiatus is huge for the agencies we fund and the direct services we provide.
"We are excited to see what the event and our teams' fundraising efforts will bring to our campaign."
In a recent guest column in The Register-Herald, Megan Legursky, campaign chair, said, "We've reached the final week leading up to our United Way of Southern West Virginia's biggest fundraising event — Dancing with the Stars.
"This highly anticipated event is sure to dazzle the (almost) sold-out audience. I encourage anyone who hasn't secured their seat to do so ASAP. From live red-carpet coverage and delicious food and drinks to watching stars perform and hearing how every dollar raised positively impacts lives, this night will have it all."
"This event encourages the stars to put their competitive 'game faces' on while feeling united and leading the charge in positively impacting southern West Virginia. Since 2012, Dancing with the Stars has proven to be the annual leader in our fundraising efforts. United Way of Southern West Virginia puts every dollar raised to amazing use — from community impact initiatives, such as providing shoes to children in need through our Equal Footing Shoe Program, to providing grant funding annually to our non-profit partner agencies across seven counties," Legursky added.
She also praised the "incredible community partners" who help make the event possible.
Supporters can vote for their favorite teams at unitedwayswvstars.org. Additional information on winners, total monies raised, etc., will be available on Tuesday, Sept. 27.
To learn more about United Way and its fundraisers, visit unitedwayswv.org.
Call 304-253-2111, ext. 105 to check on ticket availability.
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