'Dancing With Our Stars' to pay tribute to veterans

Friday, January 25, 2013

Honoring local veterans who have lost their lives will be part of this year's "Dancing With Our Stars," set for Feb. 2 at the Danny and Willa Ellis Family Fine Arts Center on the Fort Scott Community College campus.

Ryan Campbell, Joseph Lister, David "Butch" Hall, Michael Speer, Ricky Bennett, Justin Hueston and Ryan Jackman will be celebrated as local American heroes.

Fort Scottian and Washington Nationals first baseman Adam LaRoche and his family will also be recognized for his commitment to the community, said Chairperson Belynda Davenport.

Sponsored by the Fort Scott Rotary Club, the third annual DWOS' official theme is "Celebrate America." Two performances -- one at at 3 p.m. and one at 7 p.m. -- will be offered.

Dancers this year are Ray Streeter and Mary Jo Harper tripping the light fantastic to "Rock Around the Clock" for the Bourbon County Arts Council; Kevin Allen and Katie Umphenour, "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy" for The Beacon food pantry; and Blake Lundberg and Heather Fink, "If I Die Young" for Hunt for Hunger.

Also, Fort Scott Fire Chief Paul Ballou and Lisa Chaplin, Kari Messer, Kayla Pruitt, Kelly Keating and Bridgett Lancaster, "Fireman's Medley" for Ronald McDonald House; Phil Hammons and Megan Felt, "Jack and Diane" for the Lowell Milken Center; and Scott Flater and Shelley Corley dancing to "Candy Man" for the Alzheimer's Association.

Additionally, Kevin Smith and Misty Adams dancing to "R-O-C-K in the USA" for the Sharing Bucket; Enrique Martinez and Lindsay Hill, "Party in the USA" for the FSCC Endowment Athletic Scholarship Fund; Dustin Wiley and Donna Estill, "Living in America" for the Gordon Parks Museum; James Wood and Jennifer Jackman, "The Dance" for the American Gold Star Mothers; and Wade Pellett and Julie Pellett, "To the Moon" for the Wounded Warrior Project.

Chaplin, daughter of Fire Chief Paul Ballou, said DWOS has been a great venture to be involved in.

"Dancing With Our Stars has been a wonderful experience," Chaplin said. "Not only do I get to dance with some really great friends, I also get to dance with one of my heroes, my dad."

Davenport said the show features participants from all walks of life.

"We have a breast cancer survivor, we have coaches, blue-collar workers, (Fire) Chief Paul Ballou is dancing. We have teachers, nurses and we do have two veterans dancing, Wade Pellett and James Wood," Davenport said.

"It has been a real honor to work with the families of our fallen veterans," she added. "We (as Rotarians) would like to show our appreciation to our American soldiers. The LaRoche family does many things for our community that includes their time and monetary donations. They also have allowed us to have (singers) Jason Aldean and Luke Byran, and more recently, Jase Roberts (from Duck Dynasty) come to our town.

"YAT (the Youth Activities Team) has been very generous in assisting with fundraising. It has far exceeded any of our imaginations," Davenport said. "I think it's been really popular because it's an entertaining evening for a very reasonable cost and I think most guests have been impacted, or associated with, one of the 11 charities.

"Our event would not be successful without the generous donations to our local charities. That's why we're hosting this event," she said.

Audience members can vote for their favorite dancers by making a donation to their chosen charity. All the organizations will have booths at the two performances.

The dancers who get the most contributions at the end of the performance will be declared the "People's Choice" winner.

All money raised in the dancers' fish bowls will go to their charity. Davenport said this year's goal is $25,000.

Local charities have received more than $21,000 from DWOS. Another $14,000 has been raised through DWOS that has gone to other area needs, such as Fort Scott Hurricanes, Bikes for Tykes, the Chair-ity Auction at the Gordon Parks Museum and local scholarships, Davenport said.

As of late last week, Davenport said less than 100 tickets were left. "This year our charities hit very close to home. Very few people have not been impacted by these charities. We're working with our local American Legion, the Christian Motorcycle organization and VFW," she said.