Celebrity dancers show off their fancy footwork for a good cause
Contestant Clayton Wilcox and his dance partner Amber Henry whirl in first dance Saturday at Hager Hall. They were in the finals round of a dance competition to benefit Arc of Washington County. (By Kevin G. Gilbert/Staff Photographer / October 6, 2012)
But Saturday night, they stepped out of their comfort zone and added another title to their resume — celebrity dancers.
Before a crowd of 300 supporters at Hager Hall Conference & Event Center, three community leaders brought new meaning to the term movers and shakers.
They swept across the floor in 3/4 time to a waltz, bounced to the jive and did a high-energy country line dance — all with the goal of not only showing off their fancy footwork, but raising money for a good cause.
Joe Ross, president and chief executive officer of Meritus Health; Heather Guessford, career development manager at Kaplan University; and Clayton M. Wilcox, superintendent of Washington County Public Schools, had spent months preparing for their big night of dancing, with long rehearsal hours added to full-time workloads.
Now, it was showtime.
It was all part of “Dancing with the Arc Stars,” a fundraiser for The Arc of Washington County, which provides support and services for people with developmental disabilities.
Each contestant was teamed with a professional dancer, who served as both instructor and competition partner. Ross was paired with Brenna Bacon Ranieli; Guessford’s partner was Ryan Flurie; and Wilcox was paired with Amber Henry.
While a panel of judges was on hand for the event, the contestants weren’t graded on their dancing skills. Instead, it was how much money each raised. Supporters were able to vote online before the event and donations boxes also were set up throughout the ballroom.
When the final tally was in, Guessford was awarded the trophy.
As they waited in the wings before the competition, each contestant reflected on the challenge that was before them that evening.
Ross described himself as excited rather than nervous.
“With The Arc celebrating its 60th anniversary, I’m happy to be a small part of it,” he said. “But I have to admit, I want that disco ball. I just hope I don’t fall down. If I don’t, it will be a good night.”
Guessford admitted to “being really nervous. We do a lot of lifts and jumps in our routine, so the jitters are coming on.”
Although she has emceed large events, Guessford said this was the first time she had performed before so many people.
“But I have a lot of supporters here tonight, so I hope that carries me through,” she said.
Wilcox said he was feeling “a little anxiety, but I’m also kind of excited. There is so much positive energy here tonight.”
When he was asked to be a contestant in “Dancing with The Arc Stars,” Wilcox said he answered yes before having a full explanation of what he would be doing.
“But when I was told it was for The Arc, I knew I wanted to help out,” he said. “This is a great opportunity to give back to the community and to support a terrific organization.”