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Local stars practice their dance moves at Arthur Murray in Guilford in preparation for the Raise the Roof 2016 Gala of Stars. 

Photo courtesy of Donna Gregory

Local stars practice their dance moves at Arthur Murray in Guilford in preparation for the Raise the Roof 2016 Gala of Stars. (Photo courtesy of Donna Gregory )

Gala of Stars: Dancing for the Cause Returns for Second Year

Published Sep. 14, 2016

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Local celebrities will once again be hitting the dance floor for a good cause. Raise the Roof, the shoreline connection to Habitat for Humanity, is bringing back their Gala of Stars: Dancing for a Cause fundraiser for the second year and local stars will soon be dancing for votes and charity dollars.

The event began in 2015 as a new twist in Raise the Roof’s annual fundraising. Stars from across the shoreline danced for votes (expressed through charity dollars) to build a Habitat House in New Haven. Treasure of Raise the Roof Donna Gregory said last year’s event raised $60,000 and she is excited to see it back again.

“A wonderful time was had by everyone, including the dancing stars, the organizers, gala attendees, and the public that watched, cheered, and voted from afar via press, the Internet, and social media,” she said. “Raise the Roof is committed to more fun and goodness again this year.”

This year’s event will be held on Friday, Oct. 28 at The WoodWinds of Branford and dancers are already busy learning the steps to their routines though 10 private lessons from Arthur Murray Guilford, Raise the Roof’s event partner.

The 2016 dancing starts were announced at a kick-off reception on Aug. 27. The competitors are Carly Callahan and John Johmann, Rachael McNerney and Alistair Sweeney, Joan and Fillmore McPherson, Victoria Font Newman and Paul Kuehn, Julie Ovian and Sean Fowler, Jennifer Russo and Tom Murphy, Maria and Chris Small, Kim and Jason Spanier, and Bernadette Welsh and Philip Ross.

Former Madison first selectman Fillmore McPherson said he and his wife, Joan, are excited to partake in this year’s event.

“We are definitely enjoying the practice,” he said. “We are going to be doing the Argentine tango, which we have never done before, so we have had to start from scratch. It’s not like one of the waltzes that you have done off and on for years, so it is a new challenge. We do enjoy the dancing and it was a great event last year and it is for a very worthy cause, so we are going to give it our best shot.”

Voting for stars is currently open online at Each dollar donated counts as a vote; that money will then go toward this year’s Raise the Roof Habitat for Humanity Home. Gregory said the stars with the most votes will take home the grand prize.

“The dancing couple that receives the most votes will win the grand-prize Shoreline Stars trophy,” she said.

All of the dancing and donations will eventually lead up to this year’s build event for the habitat home.

“For the past two years in the spring, Raise the Roof has held their Build on the Green event in Guilford where volunteers have built exterior walls to be used in future Habitat houses,” she said. “Guilford residents probably noticed the construction happening or heard the pounding of hammers. These Build on the Green events, which have also been held on the Madison Green, give Raise the Roof the opportunity to bring a piece of the Habitat building experience to shoreline venues.”

Details for the 2017 build have not yet been announced. For more information on Raise the Roof or the 2016 Gala of Stars, visit

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