The Stars Came Out to Shine (and Dance) for the La Porte County Family YMCA

By: Sam Malkowski Last Updated: May 28, 2016

For the second year in a row, the LaPorte County Family YMCA made fundraising and exercise look easy at their Dancing Like the Stars event. It took months of planning, weeks of training, and a year of anticipation to create a performance that sought to over #54,000 to support the YMCA.

The Stardust Ballroom at Blue Chip Casino filled up fast. Each dancer had a section reserved for their fans to cheer from, and a glass bowl in front of the stage to collect vote tickets. Five dollars bought attendees an extra vote.

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“The is a very interesting thing I’ve learned about fundraising,” said lawyer Michael Gertner. “People will show up for events that they can relate to over just donating. They’re really excited about this.”

It is because of this community support that the YMCA is able to provide activities and services to people who need it the most. The money they raised will go to membership scholarships for low income citizens.

CEO Cindy Berchem said, “It was a very successful event last year. The YMCA is a very volunteer-driven organization. A good YMCA has a strong volunteer force. They really came forward tonight.”

The volunteers waited behind closed doors for their turn under the spotlight. They adjusted their skirts, stretched their muscles, and told jokes to ease their nerves.

Each dance told a story from a Broadway play. Sergeant Chris Yagelski’s song, performed in the style of a dance off between the partners, came from Dirty Dancing.

“It’s going to help benefit lots of kids through scholarships,” he said, of the time he donated, “And this will bring attention to the Y.”

Two by two the dancers with their professional partners astounded the judges. Sarah Jones danced despite her cast. Charlie Roberts showed off his moves in bright orange pants. Elizabeth Dekker, returning to the art of dance after years of hiatus, won the Judge’s Choice award.

Brandon Jones took home two awards for his efforts: Spirit Award and Big Bucks Winner. He raised the most funds of any dancer.

The People’s Choice award went to the man who has been with the YMCA the longest. Jim Aaron joined when he was 7 and is still a proud member. His passion for dancing was a great way to give back.

When YMCA Board President Susan Aaron made her closing remarks to the crowd she made one point that the Dancing Like the Stars fundraiser had already proven.

“The YMCA is more than a gym and swim.”

For more information on the La Porte County Family YMCA's programs and services, click here.

Celebrity dancers included:

Elizabeth Dekker - Community Volunteer & Stay-at-home Mom
Theresa Edwards - Customer Service Specialist, Meridian Title Corporation
Shannon Hannon - Director of Practice Management, La Porte Hospital
Sarah Jones - RN, Director of Patient Care Services, Franciscan Saint Anthony Health

Jim Aaron– Retired Business Owner
Brandon Jones - Franchise Owner, Buffalo Wild Wings
Kevin Noland - Community Volunteer & Retired Attorney
Charlie Roberts - Mortgage Loan Officer, Horizon Bank
Chris Yagelski - Sergeant, Michigan City Police Department