From July 1, 2016 to June 30, 2017 the Ohio River Valley American Red Cross did all the following and more:
– Responded to 122 local disasters
– Helped 507 individuals and families dealing with house fires and other disasters
– Conducted 150 blood drives, collecting 4,969 units of blood
On Saturday night, to help support those activities, several hundred people turned out at the Southern Ohio Medical Center Friends Community Center for dinner, drink, some flashing lights, lots of jokes – including plenty of corny ones – and, of course, some dancing.
The event was the local Red Cross’ annual fundraiser, “Dancing with Our Stars.” For the evening, seven local “stars” became celebrity dancers, working with professional dancers, all competing for the first-place prize, a large mirrorball trophy very similar to the one awarded each season on the national TV show that obviously serves as the inspiration for the Red Cross event.
The show included host (and local attorney) Jeremy Burnside, and hostess (and occupational therapist) Stephanie Schaefer. Burnside was a dancing participant for the show in 2013, and served as a judge in 2014. On Saturday, he boogied out onto the stage and even managed to work in some local political humor. Burnside joked that one couple had dropped out of the competition. At the last minute, they were replaced by a local mayor and city manager. In the end, they dropped out as well because they couldn’t agree on what type of dance to perform, Burnside said.
Star dancer Sean Frazier said he and girlfriend/dance partner Kellie Bell are close friends with local Red Cross Executive Director Debbie Smith. “She thinks I’m an entertainer,” Frazier joked. And, actually, he is. While his day job is being general manager of the Portsmouth Bob Evans, he is the lead singer for local cover band Social Intents.
Saturday’s event had a Broadway theme, with each set of dancers asked to pick a song from a Broadway play. Frazier and Smith kicked off the evening with what Smith called a punk swing style number set to Green Day’s “Holiday,” from the play based on their classic theme album, “American Idiot.”
While this writer greatly enjoyed the Green Day song, the second act of the evening — Brian Stephenson, director of occupational therapy at Compass Community Health in Portsmouth, and his partner Dianne Coriell-Rice, president of the Portsmouth Dance Chapter of USA Dance — brought the house to their feet with a disco number from “Saturday Night Fever.” The dance competition had three judges, although their input had no effect on the outcome. Instead of giving each pair of dancers a number score, each judge gave the performers a one-word critique.
According to the judges, each a former contestant or participant in some way, Stephenson and Coriell-Rice were “groovy,” “trippy” and “dynomite.”
In the end, the winner was chosen strictly on the amount of funds raised. Dancing teams not only asked the crowd in attendance for donations, but held fundraisers and sought out sponsors during the past few months. In the past, local Red Cross Director of Donations Corvella Canterberry said previous events had brought in as much as $100,000. Saturday’s star winner was Andrea Ryan, by day a nurse practioner at Shawnee Family Health Center. According to Smith, Ryan raised about $40,000, though an exact total wasn’t available at presstime.
Reach Tom Corrigan at 740-353-3101 ext. 1931