Eight local celebrities and their dance partners will compete in a competition that also serves as a fundraiser for the Boulware Mission on Saturday, August 11th. The event will be held at the Convention Center and begins at 5 pm.
In 2017, Dancing With Our Stars raised over one-hundred-thousand dollars. However, Executive Director Leigha Taylor says she sometimes hesitates to tell people how successful the fundraiser is (was?) because the amount may give the impression that the center doesn’t need as much support as it actually does. “It’s easier to get funding for brick and mortar. It is hard to get money for operating expenses,” Taylor says. “This fundraiser supports that and truly only gets us through a couple of months.” According to Taylor, the utility bill for the mission is between $4000 and $5000 each month. Additional routine expenses, such as paying staff and providing programming, are integral to the mission of Boulware.
Taylor says the programming at Boulware is “what sets us apart from other shelters.” The center is typically full, with 45 to 50 men in residence. “We house men, but we offer our self sufficiency programs to both men and women,” she says. These programs include drug and alcohol treatment by certified alcohol and drug counselors, and courses in employment skills, financial management, and parenting/family. “The biggest thing that happens daily is that people come to us having hit rock bottom,” Taylor says. “We are loving on people, giving them a fresh start, and giving them the tools to start their life over.”
Helping support the Boulware Mission is one of the reasons Phillip Page, a local attorney, decided to get involved as a dance coach for the event again. Last year, Page and Kathryn Raymer won the Judges’ Choice award. He says Dancing with Our Stars “combines two of my loves: community service and dancing. The Boulware Mission helps a lot of people I serve in my daily job.” Page says he took his first formal dance lessons as a student at Youngstown State University. He signed up for a ballroom dance class to fulfill a physical education requirement, and dancing developed into a hobby. He has worked as a Lindy Hop and swing dance instructor. Heather Montgomery, a branch manager for Liberty Financial, will perform with him this year. The duo, who have practiced about three hours a week since early June, will do a combination of swing dance styles in the fundraiser. Page says he starts with basics like how to follow and teaches people “how to dance first, then choreography,” because he wants them to enjoy dancing and not “just be a puppet.”
Chip Pride, a vice president at Independence Bank, is one of this year’s celebrity dancers. He says he has been surprised by how interested people at work and in the community are in the process. “I get questions about dance, practice, and the event every day,” he says.” “It is a lot of work. We practice 3 or 4 times a week, but it is worth it, because Boulware provides such a needed service.”
At the fundraiser, three awards will be given: Best Over All, People’s Choice, and Judges’ Choice. The scores are comprised of evenly weighted points for the actual performance and the votes collected at the event and online before it. People’s choice votes count 50% towards each couple’s overall score. The couple with the highest combined total of judges’ points and people’s choices votes will be this year’s mirror-ball champions. “It’s basically a dollar per vote,” says Leigha Taylor. Though the crew of judges is not yet set, supporters can already donate and cast their vote at https://letsdanceowensboro.ticketspice.com/dancing-with-our-stars-owensboro-style
The doors open at 5 pm the evening of the event. Dinner will be served at six and the show will start at about seven. Between the competition and the awards, there will be an intermission and dancing for the crowd. Tickets are $85.00 each (plus tax.) Tables of ten are available for $850 (plus tax) and can also be purchased at https://letsdanceowensboro.ticketspice.com/dancing-with-our-stars-owensboro-style or by calling the Boulware Mission at 270-683-8267.