Just seconds before her performance, a somewhat terrified Lynda Hood stood backstage with complicated dance steps running wildly through her mind. Her heart pounded intensely. Her body shook uncontrollably. But noticing a few women sitting in the front row, a calm suddenly washed over her.
"I recognized their faces. They were survivors of sexual violence," Hood recalls. "And I was there to raise money to help them and others like them. I knew what I had to do - dance my heart out."
Wearing a glitzy coral costume, Hood composed herself and wowed the Dancing with the Stars Chattanooga audience with a lively performance combining cha-cha, swing and jive dance moves.
When? Saturday, June 25, from 8 p.m. until midnight
Where? Tivoli Theatre
Tickets? Tickets range from $21 to $61.50 including admission, cash bar, and dancing after the performances. VIP seats are $125 and include preferred seating and admission to a pre-party reception where guests can meet guest dancer Maksim Chmerkovskiy.
For more information: contact the Partnership at 697-3829 or visit www.partnershipfca.com.
"I didn't win the dance competition that night," she says. "But I earned the title, Fan Favorite, for raising the most money prior to the competition. All in all, the other dancers and I raised almost $88,000 for Partnership last year, and we hope to raise even more this year."
Proceeds of Dancing with the Stars Chattanooga benefit Partnership for Families, Children, and Adults, a nonprofit human services agency empowering people in the Greater Chattanooga area to build better lives through professional counseling, crisis intervention, education and prevention services.
"Partnership selects eight local community leaders to participate in a dance competition based on the television show," explains Hood, who is co-chairing the ballroom dancing extravaganza later this month with Alexis Bogo. "Professional dancers from the Fred Astaire Dance Studio work with the contestants and teach each of them a choreographed routine. Each contestant receives just 15 lessons and learns everything from the foxtrot to the tango to the waltz."
Each dancer represents one of Partnership's many program areas such as Youth Services, the Family Violence Center, Deaf Services, or Elder Services. Fans make donations directly supporting a specific program by casting votes. Prior to the event, fans can vote online with a credit card or by giving donations directly to the dancer or Partnership.
On June 25, fans will gather at the Tivoli Theatre to witness all eight dancers and their professional dance partners whirling, twirling and kicking up their heels for a good cause. Fans can vote for their favorite dancer that night by text message from their mobile device, or with check, cash or credit card in the lobby during intermission. The couple raising the most money from audience voting wins the highly coveted shiny mirror ball trophy.
"The dancers are as nervous as we were last year, and they are all asking themselves, 'What have I gotten myself into?'" laughs Bogo, the 2010 competition winner. "I've told them to calm down and just have fun with it."
And the evening promises plenty of fun and entertainment. Mimicking the television show, three local judges will weigh in after each performance. This year's judges are Nancy Dix, owner of Chattanooga's Fred Astaire Dance Studio, Jason Taylor, president of the Chattanooga Times Free Press, and Alison Lebovitz from WTCI's The A List.
"And Maks will be back again this year to dance for the crowd," adds Bogo, referring to Maksim Chmerkovskiy, handsome heartthrob and professional celebrity dancer from the television show who partnered with Kirstie Alley in DWTS Season 12.
The fundraiser is presented by Partnership and the Chattanooga Times Free Press. Additional sponsors include First Tennessee, Brewer Media Group, Derryberry Public Relations, Fred Astaire Dance Studio, Modern Way Printing and Fulfillment, Families Inc, and Scenic City Signs.