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Dancing the night away

POSTED: September 30, 2011 11:08 a.m.
Photo by Pat Donahue/

With help from Evelin Lopez, Karen Harden-O’Neal, Jeff Utley, Kim Kelly and Denise Driggers, Dr. James Cornwell, far right, and Effingham Hospital Chief Operating Officer Tammy Mims present a check for $6,700 to Glenda King, executive director of Effingham County Victim Witness Assistance Program. Cornwell is one of the contestants for “Dancing With The Stars,” to be held Saturday at the Effingham Career Academy. The show starts at 7 p.m., and the doors open at 6:30 p.m.

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Quick, quick, slow; quick, quick, slow. 5-6-7-8.

The time has finally come for the Effingham dancers to show their moves. The first Effingham Dancing With The Stars will sashay into being Saturday night in front of a sold out crowd at the Effingham Career Academy. Funds raised at the event and from votes for each of the stars go to Effingham County Victim Witness Assistance Program.

And the funds have already surpassed expectations.

“I’m overwhelmed and I don’t know what to say, because ‘thank you’ just seems insufficient for what the community has done and I am just so thankful. I am,” said Glenda King, ECVWAP executive director.

King said they weren’t sure want to expect from the event, but that the dancers set a goal to raise $10,000. King said that by the time the spotlight hits the first dancer, she believes they will have reached that goal.

“Well I was floored at that,” King said of the dancers’ goal. “…I would say right now that we have already met our goal and I haven’t even collected from a lot of the stars. I think we will definitely reach our goal and surpass it.”

She said that this is a very enthusiastic group of dancers.

 King said that she was not expecting the enthusiastic response she’s gotten from the dancers and the community and, being optimistic, she printed 200 tickets. They’ve sold out at 250.

“People in the community have responded to assisting Victim Witness, not only to promote a dancer but to actually help an organization in the community that provides services,” said King.

Board members from ECVWAP, along with King and Jackie Tyre, a local dance instructor, have been planning the evening since March. And most of the 10 dancers have been diligently practicing since the summer.

Dancers for this year are: this writer, Calli Arnold, Dr. James Cornwell, Guyton Mayor Michael Garvin, Phillip King, Effingham County project manager Adam Kobek, Rincon Mayor Ken Lee, county Commissioner Reggie Loper, Guyton Alderman Les Peavy, Women in Business president Heather Sandstrom, and City of Rincon’s Kia Westmoreland-Reese. Dance instructors included Jackie Tyre and professional dancers from Savannah Ballroom.

King said that the lineup offers a variety of dance styles from the two-step to the hustle and that no two dance themes are alike. In addition to seeing routines for each of the 10 dancers, King said that the audience can expect other entertainment, including an exhibition from a young Effingham ballroom dancer and, time permitting, an audience dance lesson. There also will be refreshments for the 7 p.m. event and 98.3’s radio personalities Jen Steel and Scott Keith will be emceeing.

Awards will be given to the 10 dancers for Most Popular based on cash votes, $1 per vote, and for Best Dancer. They also will tally a tentative total of funds raised at the end of the evening. Online voting has been steady at www.dancing.effinghamtheatre.com. All money received through online voting goes to ECVWAP and will be tallied in time for Saturday night.

Dancers will perform for a panel of judges, including Magistrate Judge Scott Hinson.

King said that they hope to make Effingham Dancing With The Stars their annual fundraiser and that they’ve learned a lot already. She said that the first order of business for next year is a bigger venue.

“And I already have people who are volunteering to dance next year,” she said.

But this year’s batch of dancers will continue counting their step-together-step-togethers and such until that final bow.

ECVWAP Inc. is a 501C3 nonprofit organization providing services to victims of personal injury crimes as well as providing community awareness programs.

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