Dancing for the Stars is huge success (photos & video)

Raises well over $100,000 for Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Arizona

Mackenzie VanWormer opens her routine for the Dancing for the Stars gala to benefit the Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Arizona Friday, April 21 at the Elks Opera House in Prescott. (Les Stukenberg/The Daily Courier)

Photo by Les Stukenberg.

Mackenzie VanWormer opens her routine for the Dancing for the Stars gala to benefit the Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Arizona Friday, April 21 at the Elks Opera House in Prescott. (Les Stukenberg/The Daily Courier)

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Following the Dancing for the Stars competition Father Darrin Merlino gets a selfie with his fellow dancers at the Elks Opera House in Prescott. (Les Stukenberg/The Daily Courier)

For months, 11 local celebrities have been working with professional dancers to vie for the coveted Dancing for the Stars people’s choice award.

Late Friday evening, the male and female winners were chosen by a live audience at the Prescott Elks Theatre and anyone who may have been watching and voting from home.

The inaugural event was an elaborate fundraiser Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Arizona (BGCCA) came up with while brainstorming in 2016 on what to do in 2017.

“The board wanted to do something fresh and new to bring increased awareness to the organization,” said Nicole Kennedy, development officer for BGCCA.

Kennedy proposed they coordinate a local version of the popular television show Dancing with the Stars and everyone loved the idea.

To make it happen, they needed to recruit 11 well-known quad-city residents and 11 experienced local dancers to serve as their partners.

While the dancers were quick to jump at the opportunity, finding local celebrities brave enough to participate was a little more challenging.

“During an inaugural event, they don’t know what to expect,” Kennedy said.

A truly star-studded cast of movers and shakers in the area volunteered nonetheless.

This included public figures such as County Attorney Sheila Polk, Prescott City Council member Steve Sischka and Prescott Valley Chamber of Commerce CEO Marnie Uhl.

The event was structured in such a way that it felt glamorous while also light-hearted.

A reception was first hosted at the Hassayampa Inn. Nearly every attendee was dressed to impress.

There was then a red carpet walk in front of the Elks, for which police blocked the street.

Everyone then settled into their seats to enjoy the show. About three hours of clapping, cheering and laughter followed as the celebrities and their dancers put on a show to remember.

Throughout the event, attendees and anyone watching via cable television or online were asked to vote for their favorite performers. People were allowed to cast as many votes as they pleased, with each vote costing $20.

Before the voting even began, BGCCA had already raised about $108,000 through ticket sales and sponsor donations, Kennedy said.

“We far exceeded our expectations,” said Matt Holdsworth, a member of BGCCA’s board.

As voting wrapped up, awards were given to each celebrity for various categories, including best costume, most comedic, best showmanship and most likely to be in a music video. Judges choice awards were then given out, followed by the people’s choice awards – one female and one male.

Capturing the male people’s choice award was Brad Fain, CEO of Fain Signature Group, a development company in Prescott Valley.

“Winning was the goal,” Fain said. “But, of course, it’s all about the kids.”

Taking the female people’s choice award was Mackenzie VanWormer, a licensed clinical social worker who has spent much of her adult life advocating for children.

“I was nervous at first, but once you realize it’s all for the kids, those nerves go away,” VanWormer said after the show.

For more information about the event and who participated, visit www.dancingforthestars.net.



Click here for the full Dancing for the Stars recorded broadcast, including the red carpet interviews and dance performances.