Local celebrities don brave smile for a good cause

For not one, but two nights in a row, stunning local stars took over the stage at Northern Michigan University’s Forest Roberts Theatre for the fifth annual Dancing with our Stars Marquette County Style event.

This year, the event was billed as “The Redemption Edition,” and was expanded from the traditional one-night session to include a second night of dancing. Organizers said that move was made to meet an overwhelming public demand for more.

Certainly, if you’ve ever been to NMU’s Hedgcock Building during the night of the event, where some of the festivities take place, you would have noticed quite the hustle and bustle. Hundreds of people get dressed up and come out to show their support for the dancing locals during the “Red Carpet Event,” then saunter on over to the Forest Roberts Theatre for an evening of live entertainment. But Dancing With our Stars Marquette County Style is much more than just a theatrical performance. It’s an event that has a real impact on our community.

Aside from pitting local “celebrity” couples and foxtrot partners against one another, the dance-off is a fundraiser that provides a significant financial benefit to U.P. Home Health and Hospice.

In an article that appeared recently in The Mining Journal, U.P. Hospice Foundation Executive Director Dave Aro said that: “Since its inception, Dancing with our Stars has raised well over $300,000 to benefit hospice patients and their families.”

The money has gone toward supporting a variety of services, as well as purchasing supplies and equipment for hospice patients and their families.

The folks at U.P. Home Health and Hospice, and organizations similar to it, perform a much-needed service in the area, and steady community support helps them achieve that mission.

Those local celebrities who took part in the Dancing with our Stars event also played an important part in the hospice group’s mission.

Back in school, some of us may have had difficulties standing at the head of the classroom to deliver a presentation. No doubt it takes a lot more courage to go up on stage in front of hundreds of people to dance, especially if your mother always said you had “two left feet.”

Moreover, it’s quite a commitment the dancers made when they decided to spend hours practicing and weeks preparing for the big night — or two nights in this case.

From the patients and their families, to the employees and the volunteers, hospice care is often an emotionally draining experience for all those involved, and we think it’s safe to say that hospice is not a thought that makes people warm and fuzzy inside. Actually, it’s likely not something people ever really want to think about at all. We can avoid the thought of death our entire lives, but we can’t avoid death itself.

Though there are surely more, one positive thing about the Dancing with our Stars event is that people are actually taking the time to think about hospice care and how it affects our loved ones — that is something we’re happy to promote.

Another positive is that the dancers and everyone involved with the event make it an enjoyable night, allowing people to have fun while supporting a very worthy cause.

Unique arrangements like Dancing with our Stars Marquette County Style, or Lake Superior Hospice’s recently held “Lip Sync Battle,” are good examples of how to partner good fun with good intentions, and we’re pleased the community has shown strong support.