MARQUETTE - The Upper Peninsula Hospice Foundation put its own twist on a popular reality TV show to help raise funds Thursday.
The hospice foundation hosted the first-ever Dancing with the Stars Marquette County Style competition, which put local couples on the stage of Forest Roberts Theare to show off their moves while competing for the 2013 Mirror Ball Trophy.
All the money raised - about $35,000 - will benefit the Upper Peninsula Hospice Foundation and its programs, with 100 percent of it being donated back to hospice patients and their families in the community.
Above, Phil Johnson and Chantae Lessard perform during the 2013 Dancing with the Stars Marquette County Style Thursday at Forest Roberts Theatre in Marquette. (Journal photos by Adelle Whitefoot)
Winning the Mirror Ball Trophy were Jeremy Hansen and Alicia Frechette. Marquette native Hansen is owner of the Fassbender Funeral Home and the Swanson-Lundquist Funeral Home. Former Newberry resident Frechette is owner of Salon Salon.
Hansen and Frechette performed a cha cha to "Tonight" by Enrique Iglesias (featuring Ludacris and DJ Frank E).
The couple voted as Fan Favorite was Chantae Lessard, who works for Rio Tinto, and Phil Johnson, co-owner of the Casa Calabria. They performed an East Coast swing to "Zip, Gun, Bop" by Royal Crowne Revue.
During Thursday's competition, Bobby Glenn Brown, known for his role as Frank N. Furter in "The Rocky Horror Picture Show" performances held in Negaunee, and Nheena Ittner, executive director of the U.P. Children's Museum, were the first dancers on stage and each had a special reason for helping out.
"My significant other's family just went through losing their father and they had hospice come into the house," Brown said. "I just wanted to give back to the community. They do a lot for families and it's a good cause.
"I wish that hospices were around when my mother had gone through cancer about 25 years ago."
Ittner was asked to do the competition and she told event organizers she would only do it if Brown would be her partner. Ittner is on the hospice board and said she is just learning more and more about hospice.
"I think it's an amazing service and I love the idea the funds raised will go to help people with their needs, their wants and their dreams," Ittner said.
Brown and Ittner performed the country quick step to the song "Fake ID" by Big and Rich.
Other competitors were State Rep. John Kivela, D-Marquette, and his wife, Sandy, who performed a fox-trot to "Haven't Met You Yet" by Michael Buble; Ishpeming High School athlete Eric Dompierre with Jill Grundstrom, who performed a disco number to "Last Dance" by Donna Summer; Greater Ishpeming-Negaunee Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Elizabeth Peterson-Stelwagen and her husband, Landon Stelwagen, who did a Viennese waltz to "A New Day Has Come" by Celine Dion; WLUC-TV6 anchor Steve Asplund and his wife, Anne, who did a tango to "Tangoto Santa Maria (del Buen Ayre)" by Gotan Project; and Marquette City Police Department Chief Mike Angeli and his wife, Kay, who did a bachata to "Te Extrano (I miss you)" by X-Treme.
Adelle Whitefoot can be contacted at 906-228-2500, ext. 243.