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Local News

Local Stars Get Ready to Dance for a Good Cause

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Arthur Murray Guilford Director Peter Konow shows (from left, back) Will Gambardella, Peter O’Donnell, Don Rankin, Alex Taubes, Tom Banisch, and Russell Heinrich some new footwork in preparation for Gala of Stars: Dancing for the Cause.

Arthur Murray Guilford Director Peter Konow shows (from left, back) Will Gambardella, Peter O’Donnell, Don Rankin, Alex Taubes, Tom Banisch, and Russell Heinrich some new footwork in preparation for Gala of Stars: Dancing for the Cause. (Photo courtesy of Donna Gregory )

Ready to see your neighbors and community leaders throw on their dancing shoes for a good cause? Raise the Roof, the shoreline connection to Habitat for Humanity, has added a new twist to its annual gala fundraiser—local stars will be dancing for your votes, and your charity dollars.

The event, Gala of Stars: Dancing for the Cause, will be held Friday, Nov. 13 from 6:30 to 11 p.m. at WoodWinds in Branford. Treasure of Raise the Roof Donna Gregory said they are very excited to put on this new event.

“The inspiration for the fundraiser came from successful, long-running events held in Maryland,” she said. “Raise the Roof saw the possibility of building their own unique and exciting version, which brought them to the work of creating and putting together the first ‘Gala of Stars.’”

Many local stars agreed to dance and compete and the final list of competitors was revealed on Sept. 12. The competitors are: Eileen and Tom Banisch, Angela Clemmons and Peter O’Donnell, Deb and Russell Heinrich, Dodie Milardo and Will Gambardella, Nancy and Don Rankin, Heidi Voight and Todd Russell, and Joy Weaver and Tom Scarice.

The dancers are currently taking lessons to prepare for the event and Gregory says it is going well.

“Each dance couple is taking 10 private classes with Raise the Roof’s Prima Ballerina Event Partner, Arthur Murray Guilford, and many of the dancers are taking ballroom lessons for the first time,” she said. “Teachers and students have reported that lessons are going well and fun is being had!”

Stars are competing for votes, which equate to dollars in an effort to fund the next Raise the Roof Habitat for Humanity House. Voting is currently open online at http://raisetheroofct.org and people can vote at the event.

“Voting is off to an excellent start, with 150 individuals and organizations donating to vote for dancers or sponsor the event,” she said. “Some individuals have spread their votes across more than one dance couple in this fun, friendly competition.”

Gregory said those who vote help to build with their donations.

“The 12th Raise the Roof Habitat for Humanity house will be built at 2 Strong Street, New Haven,” she said. “Raise the Roof commits $60,000 to the building of each house. The goal for Gala of Stars: Dancing for the Cause is to raise the funds needed to build this next house.”

The gala on Nov. 13 will include a plated dinner and dance performances from all of the couples. Proceeds from the ticket sales will also go toward building the house.

Gregory said the couple with the most donations/votes will receive the grand prize trophy, but noted this event is not about winning or losing.

“In the end, the dancing stars, the voters, and the judges are all on the same team with the same wonderful goal of building a Habitat for Humanity house—a family’s home,” she said.

To vote or purchase tickets, visit http://raisetheroofct.org.


Zoe Roos covers news for Guilford and Madison for Zip06. Email Zoe at z.roos@shorepublishing.com.

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