Story By Hilary Brady
Photography By Ronnie Holden
Have you ever seen a real estate agent rumba? A teacher tango? A hospital manager hip-hop? Brace yourself for the third annual Dancing with the Brunswick Stars, an event proven to get your toes tapping and your jaw dropping.
The memorable night of entertainment serves as a fund-raiser for Brunswick Community College Foundation, an organization founded in 1982 to support the educational goals of Brunswick Community College (BCC), including such initiatives as professional development grants for faculty and scholarships for students.
“Dancing with the Brunswick Stars was an instant hit when it was first held in 2008,” says Susan Lawing, Development Officer at Brunswick Community College, “and it has taken off ever since.”
Dancing with the Brunswick Stars takes well-known area professionals and cha chas them right out of their comfort zone. Twenty contestants are selected from throughout Brunswick County and span all industries, fromhealthcare to banking, landscaping to car sales.
The reigning two-time Dancing with the Brunswick Stars champion, Dinah Gore, is one of the many stunning sights to see.
“The Gores are huge supporters of the college,” says Lawing. “They care about BCC tremendously. They’ve both said that this is home to them and they like to support where they live. They are very good to us. And Dinah is very good on her feet too.”
Other familiar faces recruited to add salsa and spice to the evening include:
- Crystal Babson, Broker/Realtor with United Coastal Homes
- June Baker, Physician Liaison for Novant Health and Brunswick Community Hospital
- Dr. Anna Blizzard, philanthropist
- Cindy Cheatham, Lower Cape Fear Hospice and LifeCareCenter Development Manager and co-owner of Shallotte and Southport Cleaners
- Rhonda Faircloth, Senior Vice President of First Citizens Bank
- Carol Petrea, President of Petrea Imports, Inc.
- Casey Rowley, Executive Assistant for ART Catering and The Purple Onion Café
- Katherine Wooten, Real Estate Broker for Southport Realty
- Leslie Bell, Brunswick County Planning and Community Development Director
- Bruce Brown, business coach with Quantum Results Coaching and Realtor for Coldwell Banker Sea Coast Realty
- Ben Del Ré, Attorney with The Del Ré Law Firm, PLLC
- Bob Livingstone, BB&T Investment Officer
- Jason Marshburn, Finance Manger for Jones Ford • Art Miller, President and Founder of Carolina Creations Landscapes, Inc.
- Ryan Mosier, Public Relations for Progress Energy’s Brunswick Nuclear Plant
- Marcus Peterson, Business Development Manager for ATMC
- Joshua Truesdale, Property Management
- Cathy Redwine Milligan, Kindergarten Teacher at Jessie Mae Monroe Elementary
- Scott Gruskos, Internal Auditor
The business professionals (“stars”) are partnered with a local dance professional and given the go-ahead to start shaking their tail-feathers. Some began practicing as early as April for the August 6 event.
“They take it very seriously,” says Lawing. “When you place someone this far out of their comfort zone and they train as aggressively as they do, you know that they are in it to win it.”
The dance style and music are selected by the contestants and remain a secret until the event. “The contestants are very secretive about their music and dance,” chuckles Lawing. “It’s really funny. It’s their thing and they want it to be a surprise.”
The dancing has been known to “knock your socks off,” according to Lawing. “It is a sensational show. And, this year, we have a professional lighting and sound company coming in. We’re also transforming the gym into something magical. We’re really excited about this show.”
Through sponsorships, ticket sales and voting, last year’s event raised an impressive $331,000. Dance fans, friends, family members and event attendees can participate in the fund-raising component of the event by voting for their favorite dancer prior to or during the night of the event.
Support your favorite dancer for just $10 and vote as many times as you would like. Voting can be done via Internet or paper ballot. Internet votes, which can be submitted by logging onto www.brunswickcollegefoundation.com and clicking on the Dancing with the Brunswick Stars icon, will be accepted through midnight on August 5. Paper ballots can be secured from the contestants themselves or by calling (910) 755-8517. These will be accepted through the night of the event, until the last pair performs. Voting will also take place during the event via paddles. Following each dance, audience members may hold up their paddle and a volunteer will respond to collect and process their vote.
Although the fund-raising bar has been set high from past events, the Foundation remains reasonable in its expectations.
“We know that the economy has been tough, so we have no expectations,” says Lawing. “We will be grateful for whatever we can raise.”
The 2009 event attracted more than 600 attendees and the same is expected for this year.
“I encourage those that don’t have a ticket to hurry up and get one,” says Lawing. “It promises to be a great night of entertainment; most definitely the best bang for your buck that you’ll ever get.”
Tickets cost $100 and can be purchased online at www.brunswickcollegefoundation.com , or in person at the Odell Williamson Auditorium on the Brunswick Community College campus or at Island Breeze in Sunset Beach.
Lawing says that the event, which has sold out every year, will likely be fully sold by the middle of July. “The phone has been ringing,” she says. “People are reserving tables. There is no question it will sell out. Our first year, we had people hanging from the rafters it was so full.”
Corporate sponsors like Brunswick Community Hospital, Dinah and Ed Gore, ATMC and Island Breeze help considerably to make the event a success, but the people of the Brunswick County community play a significant role as well.
“The main reason we have been so successful in the past is because the community has taken ownership of it,” says Lawing. “They get really engaged in the fund-raising component. And, for that reason, it is the community that is truly the show.”
Dancing with the Brunswick Stars will be held for the first time on the Brunswick Community College campus this year. “We’re thrilled about that,” says Lawing. “It gives the community the chance to come to the BCC campus and see how much it has grown.”
The event will be held in a decked out version of the new Dinah E. Gore Fitness and Aquatics Center Gymnasium. With a theme of Dancing with the Brunswick Stars: Hollywood Style and professional decorators on staff, the scenery promises to be spectacular.
Contestants will dance for a minute and a half to a variety of Hollywood-reminiscent music, including numbers from musicals and movies. Three winners will be crowned this year: Best Choreography, Most Entertaining and, of course, the winner of the most votes.
The black tie-optional event will be held on August 6 on the campus of Brunswick Community College. Heavy hors d’oeuvres will be served at 6 pm, with the show commencing at 7:15 pm.
Southport’s Coastal Catering and Events will provide hors d’oeuvres and a cash bar will be available.
“It’s a night of great food and great community,” says Lawing. “And, the best part, unforgettable entertainment. Familiar faces that you’d never imagine dancing shock you with an impressive show while bringing Brunswick County together and supporting its higher education. There’s just something really fabulous about that.”
2010 Brunswick “Stars”
Dancing with the Brunswick Stars will be held on August 6 on the campus of Brunswick Community College. Tickets, $100 each, can be purchased online at www.brunswickcollegefoundation.com , or in person at the Odell Williamson Auditorium on the Brunswick Community College campus or at Island Breeze in Sunset Beach.