Dance the night away

Dancing With Our Stars Marquette County Style contestants announced

(Courtesy image)

MARQUETTE — This year’s Dancing With Our Stars Marquette County Style will be pretty in pink, with the theme: Barbie and Ken Edition.

The annual dance competition fundraiser for Upper Peninsula Home Health & Hospice kicked off Tuesday with a gathering at the Courtyards in Marquette. Eight local couples met each other and learned the era of Barbie they will be representing and the dance style they will be practicing for the next 10 weeks with their dance instructor, who will help them choreograph their number for the competition.

Dance styles will include the cha cha, disco, East Coast swing, West Coast swing. tango, hip hop, Motown and the fox trot. This year’s dance instructors are Maureen McFadden, Lauren Culpepper, Sylvia Gravel, Rose Goltz, Skylar Taavola, Eden Langlois, Ann Marie Frenn and Kimber Schumann.

The couples will be practicing their dance moves and holding their own mini event fundraisers now until May 22. Tickets go on sale March 13 at Northern Michigan University’s Forest Roberts Theatre. Two nights of performances will be held again this year, at 7 p.m. Wednesday, May 22, and at 7 p.m. Thursday, May 23. A red carpet will be held at 5 p.m. May 23 at the Hedgcock Building, featuring hors d’oeuvres and a cash bar. Performances will be held both nights in the Forest Roberts Theatre. Winners will be announced and awards will be presented that evening.

Dancing With Our Stars is the largest fundraiser for the U.P. Hospice Foundation each year.

“It’s a wonderful cause, it helps tons of families here in the area,” said Lindsay Hemmila, DWOS event coordinator.

Last year’s event raised $120,000.

“One hundred percent of donated funds go directly to patient care needs. No foundation funds are used to cover operation costs of the foundation,” according to Kori Bjorne, director of community services.

Donations provide services, medications and equipment for patients who would otherwise not have them available. It also funds the Make-a-Memory program that provides every individual and family served by U.P. Home Health & Hospice an opportunity to do or receive something significant to them. Memories have included massage therapy and music therapy, flying in family members for a family reunion and making it possible for a patient to meet the president of the United States.

The 2024 Dancing With Our Stars couples are Wendy and Corey Hanycz, Mariel Morton and John Cappoferri, Karen and Ryan Kovacs, Rachael Grossman and Dr. Michael Grossman, Samantha and Christopher Durley, Dr. Jenna Racine and Dane Nelson, Dr. Mercy Odueyungbo and Tony Jackson, and Nichole and Jon Sandoval.

Wendy Hanycz was a dancer and gymnast from age 3 through high school. But up to now, Corey and Wendy, both Marquette Senior High School grads, said their dancing as a couple has mostly been limited to the occasional wedding reception or a twirl around the kitchen.

“This is out of my comfort zone,” Corey said, noting he got a little nudge from his wife and 8-year-old daughter. “But, I’m happy to be part of such a good cause that raises a lot of money.”

The couple said they plan to place their trust in their dance instructor for the competition.

So, who do Wendy and Corey think will win the dance competition?

“Without a doubt, we will,” Corey said.

“We didn’t sign up for third place,” Wendy said with a smile.


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