Two purple-fringed costumed dancers sashayed their way to the top prizes Saturday in the annual Dancing for a Cause fundraiser at the Lamar-Dixon Expo Center.
Pediatrician Diane Kirby and Kayla Frederic, who works at her family’s business, both said they stepped on the stage to support the host agency, Community Opportunities — the Arc of East Ascension.
The Arc provides services for area residents with developmental disabilities. Money from the event, which started in 2009, helps with expenses to provide employment training, education, housing and other programs for those seeking services.
The Arc was founded in 1964 by a group of parents with children who had developmental disabilities and quickly grew into more, said the Arc Executive Director Norma Dukes.
“The most rewarding thing of the program is to see that the people with developmental disabilities can live and do the things that we do,” Dukes said.
Several dancers talked about the agency’s contributions to the community and its importance in the lives of families they serve.
“The whole time I’ve been involved in this, I hear stories all the time about what they’re doing for folks in the community, and it’s just amazing work,” said Kirby. “I’m really grateful that I had the opportunity to do this. Everybody on the team made it so much fun.”
The highlight of the show was a performance by the Arc Dancers, a group of residents who receive services from the agency.
The dancers, many who said they had limited or no dance experience, included an associate principal, barber, state agency head, former school board member and the voice of the Jambalaya Festival.
Kirby, with partners Leonard Augustus Jr. and Le’Brian Patrick, took home the Shining Star award for the most money raised, and the Bobby and Sue Giles Judges’ Award for overall performance. They danced a fast-paced jive.
Frederic and Patrick’s cha cha routine won the fan’s choice award.
Fashioned after TV’s “Dancing with the Stars,” local celebrities and officials were teamed up with trained dancers to perform a musical number.
Joining Kirby and Frederic in the event were Todd Long and Alyssa King, who opened the show with an upbeat disco routine; Kathy Kliebert and Van Vo, with an East Coast Swing; Jody Elisar and Kris Cangelosi, with a flashback to the ’40s; Ty Fowler and Leonard Augustus, who performed a cha-cha street fusion; Harold Stewart and Courtney Black, with a smooth mambo; Jack LeBlanc and Hannah Wilson, with an ’80s-themed funk number; Cindy Plaia and Aaron Lafitte, with musical theater number; and Darryl Comery and Milli Brown, with an energetic funk.
The evening kicked off with hosts Whitney Vann and Mark Dearman introducing the judges for the night. Czarina Walker, Donaldsonville Mayor Leroy Sullivan, Judge Jason Verdigets, Sherrie Despino and technical judge Chandra Sanders scored each contestant on their performance.
“This is such a great, awesome event,” said Walker, “that not only supports a great cause, but it brings people in this community together who you’d never have under the same roof at any other point in the year.”