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An extravagant evening Dancing with the Stars fights cancer with fun

February 5th, 2012 Posted in Arts and Life

By Kristi Ottley
Photos by Mallory Jones

LOGAN—Cache Valley’s Relay for Life presented nine local celebrities in its “Dancing with the Relay Stars” Thursday to kick off a new year of fundraising and events to generate funds for the American Cancer Society.

The event gave individuals an opportunity to get involved in the fight against cancer through financial and canned food donations, or by signing up as part of a team for the main Relay for Life event in July. Thursday’s event was all about getting the community involved and to increase awareness.

“Relay for Life is a 24-hour event, where people walk on a track in remembrance of those who have passed from cancer, or in celebration of those who have had cancer and survived,” said spokeswoman Stacey Moss. Relay teams will spend the next five months recruiting donors for the overnight event, she said.

The main event will be held July 13-14 at Elkridge Park in North Logan.

But Thursday’s main event was all about smooth moves, fun and fancy footwork as Cache Valley “celebrities” teamed with professional dancers wow’d a big and excited crowd at the Logan Recreation Center.

The “stars” were nine local residents who want to help the American Cancer Society, Moss said. Many of them had personal reasons for for wanting to get involved in the fight against cancer.

“When I was asked [to participate], I was extremely apprehensive due to the fact that I am not a dancer, but a medical provider with two left feet,” said physician’s assistant Teryl Hunsaker, who performed hip-hop with dancer Sarah Fullmer.

“What really tipped the scales is the fact that my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer several years ago and is a survivor today,” Hunsaker said. “She continues to inspire me and the least I can do is dance!”

Providence physician Jacob Egbert said he’s no dancer, but “I was more than happy to participate in this event—I like a challenge, especially a physical one. Dancing is not something I have ever attempted so it should be fun.”

The nine competing “celebrities” were dancing fools, and they all appeared to enjoy themselves. Donning costumes, smiles, and dancing shoes, they hit the dance floor at the “Rec” in style.

“This is a stretch for me,” said Logan City Police Capt. Tyson Budge. “I have no dancing experience, unless you count 4th grade square-dancing.”

The evening began with the performance of an upbeat cha-cha by Relay Event chair Roger Barker and his professional dance partner Jenette Kozowski. Barker performed his number in an outrageous purple wig, the official color of Relay for Life. Kozowski is a member of the USU ballroom dance team.

Laura Wolford, a Cache Valley cook and interviewer on The Valley Channel, performed the tango with her professional partner Kyle Holland, another USU ballroom dancer team member. Wolford offered powerful stage presence in a long purple gown.

Insurance agent Josh Barnett, spiffy in white shirt, black tie and suspenders, got the crowd excited and loud with his entertaining performance of the Lindy hop. His dance partner, USU ballroom dancer Elizabeth Watts, donned a white skirt with black polka dots and a short black scarf tied around her neck. The couple’s attire took the crowd back to the 1930s, when jazz and swing were king.

Tyson Budge, the police captain, performed a smooth and energetic foxtrot with professional ballroom dancer Katie Bundy, who coaches the USU ballroom dance team and two other teams in the valley.

“I have enjoyed learning the dance,” Budge said. “It has taken me way out of my comfort zone.”

Among the highlights of the show was an entertaining freestyle dance by the Bucksome Beauties, three sisters who have entertained audiences for more than 30 years. All three of these hilarious and good-spirited ladies are cancer survivors, whose outlandish costumes and antics had the crowd roaring with laughter.

Teryl Hunsaker, the apprehensive physician’s assistant, kept the momentum going with his enthralling hip-hop performance with dance instructor Sarah Fullmer. They looked the part, decked out in sweats, hoodies and tennis shoes with red bandanas around their foreheads.

“She has extensive training and is the most amazing dancer I have ever seen,” said Hunsaker of his partner. “Our first meeting was so intimidating, but she has made this a tremendous experience.”

Lindsey Lopez, the new Miss Cache Valley 2012, performed a breathtaking waltz with professional dancer Brandon Lucas. Lopez was sensational in her flowing purple gown, looking like royalty with a sparkling crown as Lucas twirled her across the floor.

Lucas, another member of USU’s ballroom, also was stunning in a full tuxedo. Together they were spectacular, especially considering they’d had only four days to prepare for their performance.

“This is a really good program because everyone can help and everyone can do something,” Lopez said.

Jacob Egbert, the Providence doctor, who is a cancer survivor himself, performed an impressive and fun jazz number with professional dancer Alix Henrie. Egbert, dressed in black from head to toe, and Henrie, who wore black shorts and a shiny red top, brought an air of sophistication and style to the dance floor. Their ever-present smiles let the audience know they were having a good time.

For Egbert, it was very personal. “Being a cancer survivor myself, I am sensitive to the needs of those who face this terrible diagnosis,” Egbert said.

The competition’s finale was an elegant solo performance by family practice doctor Vera Carlson of Providence.

There were no judges—selecting the winners was the job of the audience. Crowd members got to vote for the celebrity of their choice by donating any amount of money to a bucket decorated by the celebrity. While the donations were added up, the dancing continued with performances by various dance studios throughout the valley.

While the audience pitched bills and coins into their favorite dancers’ buckets, the USU ballroom dance team performed a waltz routine .

Two awards concluded the evening, the first was to event chair Roger Barker for raising the most money through pre-fundraising—$1,792. He was given a plaque and a traveling trophy with his name inscribed on it that went home with him for the year, until next year’s fundraiser.

The big “People’s Choice” winner, selected by audience contributions, went to USU student and new Miss Cache Valley Lindsey Lopez, who collected $289 in her bucket.

“This is such a great cause,” Lopez said. “My grandfather has skin cancer. Everyone knows someone who has cancer or (has) been affected by it, whether it’s a friend, a family member, or a co-worker.”

The event raised a grand total of $6,025 for Relay for Life Cache Valley and the American Cancer Society.

“I just hope that everyone has a good time and can focus on the needs of others above their own for a moment,” Hunsaker said. “We all have the ability to reach out and make a difference.”

Contestant and policeman Tyson Budge agreed. “Everyone has most likely been touched by cancer in some form,” he said. “This is a great cause, and the fact that so much of the proceeds stay local is fantastic.”


By Mallory Jones

CHA-CHA—Relay Event Chair Roger Barker and his professional dance partner Jenette Kozowski.

MISS CACHE VALLEY 2012 Lindsey Lopez, in a breathtaking waltz with Brandon Lucas.

CANCER SURVIVER Jacob Egbert, a Providence doctor, performs a jazz number with Alix Henrie.

THE BUCKSOME BEAUTIES, three sisters who are cancer survivors, demonstrate the attitude that keeps them young and beautiful.

GRAND FINALE—Members of the USU Ballroom Dance Team perform to conclude the Dancing with the Stars evening.


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