In 2009, the fundraising committee and board members of St. Vincent Center for Children and Families proposed a fundraiser that would pair local community leaders with trained dancers in a show much like TV favorite “Dancing With The Stars.” The show’s success inspired the St. Vincent development team to unveil Dancing With Our Stars, Evansville-Style. Now the annual event, sponsored this year by Accuride Corporation and South Central Media, has outgrown St. Mary’s Manor and will relocate on May 5 to The Centre’s ballroom.
With a new venue comes new rules: winning is less about votes and more about what the dancers bring to the stage. This year’s judges — Jack Schriber, Deena Laska-Lewis, and Sr. Brenda Fritz, executive director — will rate each performance from 1-5, and the audience will choose a crowd favorite. The 10 celebrities from local businesses have been training since last November; they’re given about three minutes on stage. Event co-chair Patti Wittgen says this year they’re giving contestants a “fighting chance” to win the title. “A couple may lack votes,” she says, “but they may win with the audience and judges.”
Revenue from tickets, votes, and sponsorships directly support the day-to-day operations of St. Vincent. The event has grown well beyond the $25,000 raised in 2009 to this year’s goal of $100,000, allowing St. Vincent to provide one full year of nationally accredited early childhood education for 48 of Evansville’s poorest children. “While we do honor dancing ‘winners’ that evening,” Fritz says, “the real winners are the children and families we serve each day.”
For more information, visit www.stvincentsdaycarecenter.com.