“No,” he said. “I want you to start dancing.”
With that sentence uttered by host and Calexico City Councilman John Moreno, the fifth annual Dancing with the Stars Gala on Friday at Barbara Worth Country Club began.
The event is hosted by the Imperial Valley Regional Occupational Program and has the purpose of raising funds to offer scholarships to high school students in the Valley, said coordinator Jennifer Paez.
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Approximately $11,000 have been collected through the event each year. Most of the funds come from the entrance fee, which is $75, but they also have a silent auction and people have the opportunity to vote for their favorite contestant to compete for the popular vote. Each vote is $1 and people can vote as many times as they like.
The contestants are also judged by a panel of experts. This year the judges were Nancy Rood, IID board President John Pierre Menvielle and Consul of Mexico in Calexico Gina Andrea Cruz Blackledge.
This was the first time Blackledge attended the event and she said that it is very important to her to support it because the program supports the youths of the Valley.
“What I have seen in the Valley is that people are very participative with helping the community,” Blackledge said.
Approximately 500 people attended the gala. Dinner was served before the contestants came out to the dance floor.
Pat Dorsey came for the first time this year and she was impressed with the elegance and the sophistication of the event.
“It’s beautiful,” Dorsey said. “I feel like I’m in the TV show ‘Dancing with the Stars.’”
One by one the contestants made their entrances to the dance floor. The dance routines varied with different rhythms like salsa and bachata, and there was even a Michael Jackson.
The contestants this year were Owen, Rabobank Regional President Dave Takata, owner of Rogers & Rogers Nissan Terri Rogers, public affairs specialist Eusebio Arballo, First Imperial Credit Union president Fidel Gonzalez and Imperial Valley Home Health Care Chief Executive Officer Katy Alcantra-Santillan.
Alcantra-Santillan took home both the judges’ choice award and the people’s choice award. Her routine was the most dramatic of all since she incorporated some theatrical movements.
Her win didn’t come easy, as she had to battle it out with Rogers in a dance-off after coming in tied.
Rogers had one of the biggest cheering teams. Her sister, Mary Helen Sanchez said that their family is very involved with helping the community in any way they can.
“Whatever it takes to help the kids of the Valley,” Sanchez said.
Multimedia Producer Laura Gonzalez can be reached at 760-337-3440 or firstname.lastname@example.org