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Article Published October 27, 2016
Judges Announced for Gala of Stars Dance Contest
Press release from Raise the Roof

The judges for Raise the Roof’s upcoming Gala of Stars: Dancing for the Cause event have been announced. They are Janet Peckinpaugh, Angela Clemmons, and Peter Konow. Deb and Russell Heinrich, the 2015 winners of the Judge’s Award for Best Dance Performance, will return for a command performance.

The participants are community leaders passionate about making the world a better place by providing opportunities for families to own safe, affordable homes.

The stars are learning choreographed ballroom routines suited to their personal styles during ten private lessons provided by Arthur Murray of Guilford, Raise the Roof’s Event Partner. The dancing stars will perform on Saturday, Oct. 28 at Raise the Roof’s Gala of Stars: Dancing for the Cause at The WoodWinds of Branford. The stars are competing for “votes” (dollars = votes) and their dancing is raising funds for the building of the next Raise the Roof Habitat for Humanity home in New Haven. The dancing couple that receives the most votes will be named the winner and will receive the grand-prize Shoreline Stars trophy. To vote, and donate, visit

Janet Peckinpaugh served for three decades as a television journalist. Currently, she is a realtor with William Pitt Sotheby’s International Realty.

Angela Clemmons was among the stars who danced for Raise the Roof’s cause in the inaugural 2015 Gala of Stars. She and her dance partner, Peter O’Donnell, were runners-up for the title of 2015 Shoreline Stars, earning about $10,000. They also captured second place for the best dance performance of the night. This year, Clemmons is trading in her dancing shoes for scoring paddles.

“I will forever cherish the experience of being a dancer at the first Gala of Stars: Dancing for the Cause. I didn’t say yes to it immediately because the mere idea of doing a ballroom dance routine in front of a live audience was almost paralyzing. But when it came down to it, I had to answer the question, ‘How much do you really care?’ The next thing I knew, I was shopping for my West Coast Swing dance shoes and doing all I could, along with my dance partner, Peter O’Donnell, to inspire everyone we knew to head to our donation page and help us build this house,” she says. “It took the combined efforts of so many compassionate, diligent, generous, hard working people to achieve this one goal. That, in itself, was inspiring on many levels. But nothing comes close to the deep sense of satisfaction and joy I felt when I walked into the home we were building and read the message on the wall that 7-year-old Eliana wrote: ‘This is my house.’”

Peter Konow, director of Arthur Murray Guilford, is a returning celebrity judge.

Gala of Stars Dancing for the Cause will take place Saturday, Oct. 28, from 6:30 to 11 p.m. at The WoodWinds, 29 Schoolground Road, Branford.

These stars dancing to build a Raise the Roof/Habitat for Humanity house in New Haven include:

• Carly Callahan and

John Johmann

• Rachael McNerney and

Alistair Sweeney

• Joan and Fillmore


• Victoria Font Newman and

Paul Kuehn

• Julie Ovian and Sean Fowler

• Jennifer Russo and

Tom Murphy

• Maria and Chris Small

• Kimberly and Jason Spanier

• Bernadette Welsh and

Philip Ross