January 12, 2010b Pinehurst, NC
The inaugural Dancing with the Sandhills Stars fundraiser enthralled over 400 attendees and raised over $100,000 for Communities In Schools and Moore Buddies, the two major mentoring programs in Moore County. The event was held at the Pine Needles Resort on January 9, 2010.
After months of hard work, 19 dance couples competed at the event in front of a sold out crowd of 350 guests and an additional 50 volunteers. The dancers were notable local politicians, business owners, athletes and artists including Moore County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Susan Purser, Senator Harris Blake, Southern Pines Mayor Mike Haney, Moore County United Way Executive Director Linda Pearson, STAR 102.5FM radio celebrities Kristen Palmer and Rich Rushford and well-know musician Baxter Clement dancing with his wife Taylor.
Pine Needles Director of Golf Pat McGowan and local community leader Cathy Smith won the championship. Their high-energy dance to Donna Summerb s disco anthem b I Will Surviveb sent the crowd cheering for more. Smith and McGowan won by generating the most b votesb . Each vote was sold for $10.
Three additional couples rounded out the top four vote winners. Interior designer Susie Leader and Retired Air Force Colonel Nelson Neil jitterbugged to b Do You Love Meb . Political advocate George Little and his wife Wanda showed the crowd how a Southern Shag dance is really done and Dr. Susan Purser and Senator Harris Blake elegantly waltzed across the stage.
b The real winners tonight are the kids of Moore County,b said Chrisy Connelly, Executive Director of Moore Buddies, b The funds raised this evening will go to help the students who need it the most; those students who can benefit from the support of a caring adult mentor.b Emcee, noted author and Pinestraw Magazine Managing Editor Jim Dodson, kept the crowd and dancers on their toes with his witty introductions of each dance couple. Color commentary was provided by three b judgesb , former Red Sox Manager Grady Little, Sandhills Community College President Dr. John Dempsey and Managing Editor of The Pilot Steve Bouser.
The audience clapped, sang along and voted for each couple while watching a broad variety of dance routines including waltzes, swing, shag, hip hop, jive, disco, modern, jazz, lindy, hustle, two-step and jitterbug. Dancers received complimentary choreography and lessons from Fred Astaire Dance Studios in Pinehurst. No matter where the audience was seated they had a prime view of the dancers from either the large raised stage or from one of two enormous Trinitron screens showing each couple as they performed. b There wasnb t a bad seat in the house,b said Tom Cruce Communities In Schools Board Member.