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Residents dance to help organizations

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Throughout August and September, eight local residents will come together to practice their cha-cha, foxtrot and waltz.

They’ll rehearse carefully choreographed routines over and over and over again. While they started with two left feet, their moves will be conditioned to make them fluid stars of the stages.

All of the long practices, the awkward steps and the body aches will be worth it as they raise thousands of dollars for local nonprofit agencies.

As part of the inaugural Dancing with the Johnson County Stars, they’ll be working to raise money for eight county causes. The dancers will be soliciting sponsorships and donations, with the added bonus of being judged as the best mover and shaker of the group.

Organizer Barb Miller offers a primer on how the competition will work:

What agencies are involved?

Franklin Heritage Inc.; Gateway Services-Access Johnson County, Interchurch Food Pantry, KIC-IT, Johnson County Historical Society, The Refuge, Johnson County Senior Services, Youth Connections

How does it work?

Each agency picks a dancer to take part, and they do their own fundraising with that dancer. Whatever they sell through sponsorship and fundraising goes directly to them.

What is the overall goal?

We want to raise $100,000 for the agencies involved.

Besides the money, what are the dancers aiming for?

We have a mirror ball trophy, where the ball turns, and that goes to the dancer who raises the most money. We are having judges who will score the dancers based on who they think is the best dancer, and we will award a Best Dancer Award both nights.

How did you come up with the idea to do this?

Four years ago, when I was on the board of Youth Connections, the director at the time came in and had an idea for a fundraiser — Dancing with the Stars. I didn’t think it would work, and she dropped it. A few months later, she asked if I’d go see one with her in Terre Haute. By the time that evening was over, I was convinced I wanted to do an event like that.

What obstacles existed to making this work?

We didn’t have a dance instructor to work with, we really didn’t have a location that could handle it all, and no one seemed to have the time to do it at the time. Since that time, I’ve been to five of these events, and we’ve figured out those details.

Why is this something you wanted to take on?

It’s too good an opportunity for one agency to pull it off. Every agency has its own supporters, and if we could collaborate with several agencies, we could touch everyone in the county. There might be some overlap, but there also will be people who support just one agency.

What was the criteria for agencies included?

It had to be an agency that served the entire county, had to have a strong volunteer corporation and a committed board. That’s how we came up with the eight agencies that are involved.

What kind of additional features will be included in the event?

We’ll have a band playing both nights for the people who want to dance at intermission. Beer and wine will be for sale. We’ll have a tent on the lot across from the Artcraft, and the agencies will be set up to talk to people about their mission and get donations.

What should people know about parking?

Because of parking issues, we have permission for people to park at Franklin Community Middle School, and a bus service will bring people downtown.

How can people make donations?

They can go to wedoauctions.net/dwtjcs and buy tickets online or they can click on a dancer and make a pledge that night. They can even do that the night of the event on their smartphones.

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