Dance the night away

2024 Dancing With Our Stars event raises $50,000 for U.P. Hospice Foundation



Journal Staff Writer

MARQUETTE — The 2024 edition of Dancing With Our Stars: Marquette County proved to be the most successful yet, raising more than $50,000 for the Upper Peninsula Hospice Foundation.

The annual event was held Wednesday and Thursday at Northern Michigan University’s Forest Roberts Theatre and saw several notable area residents perform dance routines, including Marquette city Manager Karen Kovacs, as well as former National Football League player Tony Jackson.

The theme for the 2024 edition of the event was “Barbie and Ken.”

“It is the first year that we have sold out, and I attribute that to the theme,” said event coordinator Lindsey Hemmila.

During the event, 16 couples performed in outfits to represent different eras of Barbie dolls, with each of the couples working with a professional dance instructor to help them come up with and perfect their routines.

Judging the event was an all-female, three-person panel that included WLUC TV6 anchor Elizabeth Peterson, United Way of Marquette County board member Shawn Beckman-Owsley and NMU director of dance Jill Grundstrom.

“I coordinate the group number at the end, I am one of the judges and find all of the dance pros,” Grundstrum said. “Within the dance world, it is really hard to find time to support the community outside of just dance, and I think specifically for the pros this is such a great opportunity to be able to give back to the community and get more people involved in what we do.”

Each year, judges award three prizes: the Congeniality Award, awarded to the dance pros’ favorite couple. The Fan Favorite Award, given to the team that raised the most funds and the Mirror Ball Award, given for the best performance.

Winning the Congeniality Award was Samantha and Christopher Durley who performed as DJ Vibe Barbie and Ken. Samantha Durely works as a consumer finance operations specialist with the UIF Corporation. Her husband Chris Durely sits on the board of the American Culinary Federation Upper Peninsula Chapter and also does work with several area charities and committees.

The Fan Favorite Award was given to TV Chef Barbie and Ken performers Dr. Michael Grossman and Rachael Grossman. Michael Grossman works as the medical director of U.P. Home, Health & Hospice. Rachael is the owner of Negaunee restaurant Strega Nonna.

The Mirror Ball Award was presented to 80s Rewind Workout Barbie and Ken performers Mariel Morton and John Cappoferri. They work as bartenders at Ishpeming’s Congress Pizza. Morton also teaches English and art at Ishpeming-Negaunee-NICE School in Ishpeming.

“The hospice support so much, so many of us up here have some story with hospice and I think that is huge benefit to us to be able to give back,” said Grundstrom.

Antonio Anderson can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 550. His email address is aanderson@miningjournal.net


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