Familiar faces dance to support the YMCA in fundraising
Candidates, put on these dancing shoes! The countdown to brag is on as seven local residents prepare to show off their best dance moves for a good cause. At 6 p.m. on Saturday, November 13, the Duneland YMCA Dancing Like The Stars competition will return live at the Blue Chip Stardust Event Center.
After going virtual for last year’s event, the YMCA is ready for its big comeback in the ballroom. According to event chairperson Shannon Donnelly, who is also treasurer of the Y board of directors, the excitement is palpable. “We’re really excited, it feels like it’s going to be a celebration,” Donnelly said. “We are of course working on putting safety precautions in place to make ourselves comfortable, but we are convinced that we can always organize the event while being safe and smart. We’ve seen tickets sell out faster than ever, which is great. There is a lot of exciting energy going back to something that has been a tradition for a very long time. “
A pleasant and lively tradition that provides for a night of fun, but also rooted in a good cause. Fundraising related to the competition goes towards grants for child care, memberships for serving military members and their families, as well as memberships for elderly community members and individuals in recovery programs for n ‘ to name a few. With a goal of $ 100,000, every bit counts, according to Donnelly. “The need is always greater than what we can raise.
“So it’s vital. Every dollar stays in Duneland and goes directly to someone in need. “
When interviewing each candidate, it was clear that the biggest appeal of signing up was that it was such a beneficial fundraiser for the community. That didn’t mean, however, that once on board, each competitor’s competitive side didn’t come out. “There’s a lot of energy in this group and it’s a very competitive group which is great,” said Donnelly. “They all want to win!
So how do the competitors stack up? They can be divided into those who are experienced, those who are there for fun or with a surprise up their sleeves, the pair of jokers and the big fundraiser.
The first of the group with some experience is Jessica Amling, a longtime Duneland resident, who will represent the Duneland Family YMCA. Having taught Zumba classes for just over three years now, coupled with her experience in the Chesterton High School Show Choir, Amling hopes to use this advantage to her advantage. “I’ve kind of always been an artist, I love playing and I miss it,” Amling exclaimed. “So having the opportunity to do it again blew me away. My choreographer and I get along really well together and I love the experience. That in addition to representing the Y and all that it stands for, I am very proud to be their ambassador.
Former two-time DLTS judge Kristin Morris, director of choral music at the CHS, who will represent the Duneland School Corporation this year, also brings to the table a solid background in performance. According to Morris, despite popular opinion, she is not a dancer, but has extensive experience in musicals and choirs, which could work in her favor. “I love the singing and the performance acting, but the dancing is the weakest of the three for me, so it’s definitely a different experience,” Morris said. “I do my own choreography and use some of my students as well as a surprise guest. Honestly, I don’t know if this gives me an advantage or not. It will fall as it will fall, but we will take advantage of it.
The next contender in the mix is also looking to enjoy the evening and, while he has no performance experience, is not nervous. Chesterton Fire Chief Eric Camel, who joins forces with his wife Sarah, was seen by Donnelly as a great candidate. Camel hopes to use their involvement to attract large funds for the cause and profit from the experience. “I’m not nervous about the event,” Camel said. “I set myself the goal of raising money for the Y and having a good time. It will be a fun night for everyone and I am delighted to see the other dancers and the personal touches they put into it. We are busy working with our YMCA choreographer Emmie for the event.
Rachel Mullins, COO at North Shore Health, takes a similar approach to her performance with her partner, Dr Dan Dewar. Noting that neither has any performance background, they were eager to get involved, as the YMCA’s mission is one that mirrors theirs at NorthShore. “I love that the Y is focused on feeding the youth in the community, regardless of their income and background, because they are truly the future of our communities,” said Mullins. “Our choreographer has been wonderful and Dr Dan and I are both nervous and excited for the show! We have planned a very fun dance and are just looking to have fun while making the crowd laugh. “
Chesterton Brewery co-owners Vernon Brown and Nikki Grass also hope that a surprise they have up their sleeves will bring some humor to the crowd and help them pull off their performance. “I’m nervous because I don’t like being in the spotlight at all,” Grass said. “I think overall it’s been going well so far. None of us can dance so our choreographer kept it very 101 for us. “
Brown agreed that until now they had the dance, now they just need to relax and make it their own. Knowing that they are doing charity is motivating enough for both of them, according to Brown. “The YMCA does a lot of good for our community. A lot of people think of them as just a gym or a swimming pool, but that’s not even a hundredth of what they do. As long as we don’t step on each other’s toes, I think we’ll be fine. Neither Nikki nor I have much rhythm and we recognize that. We just know that we are doing something good for the community and that will help us get out of it. “
While most bands don’t know what they’re for and just hope for the best, a pair of jokers will have a head start on the dance floor. Dancer Scott Mundell, Executive Director of Business Development at Franciscan Alliance, joins forces with his wife, Maura Mundell, President of the Duneland Chamber of Commerce. Maura has been to the event before and can’t wait to get her back on the dance floor. “I debuted in 2018 and they haven’t been able to get rid of me since,” Maura joked. Scott laughed and confessed, “I’m not a dancer! Dancing is well outside my comfort zone, but I’m a member of the Y board and they ask me every year. Finally, they caught me at a weak point. This is a double check of the list for Scott; he appeases event planners and also gives his wife those couple dance lessons they never took before their wedding.
Last but not least is the candidate who is aiming for the jackpot. Jamie Baczkowski, provider of creative display solutions with Trinity Displays, has stepped up to support this event. “The YMCA is very close and dear to my heart,” Baczkowski said. “I grew up close to them when I was a kid and they have always been a part of my life. As a member and now professionally as well, I am fully involved. All-in on the dance floor, but also has an eye on what could be considered the biggest prize. “I am crushing this fundraising business,” Baczkowski said. “Each dancer is supposed to raise $ 5,000, that’s the goal, and I’m already around $ 24,000! “
As the event draws near, there is still a chance for everyone to win one or more of the evening’s prizes. Will it be the competitor who choreographed their own routine? Maybe the couple who brought in a choreographer from the YMCA staff? Or which of the three choreographers from Chesterton’s Dancebizz Center for Dance will walk away with bragging rights? Sure to be a fun night out, even if she’s rocking, Donnelly put on a great show, especially given the variety of styles Dancebizz has been able to choreograph for the show over the years. “Katrina, the owner, has been really committed to this event over the past few years,” said Donnelly. “She has a great team of choreographers and because they offer such a wide variety of classes they are able to produce a wide variety of dances to suit our candidates.”
It’s not too late to have some fun and purchase a ticket to the prom-themed event by calling the YMCA at (219) 926-4204 or by visiting dunelandymca.org.