The Times West Virginian

September 29, 2013

Dancing with the Stars set Saturday

Major Harris among judges for fundraiser

By Emily Gallagher
Times West Virginian

FAIRMONT — The stars are aligning for Marion County’s Own Dancing with the Stars fundraiser.

The fundraiser, sponsored by the United Way of Marion County (UWMC) and Marion County Chamber of Commerce (MCCC), will feature Marion County residents from the community dancing in couples.

Tiffany Samuels, director of the UWMC, said during the fundraiser there are five couples competing against each other.

The fundraiser will be on Saturday, Oct. 5, at Colebank Hall on the shared campus of Fairmont State University and Pierpont Community & Technical College.

Samuels said a social hour will begin at 6 p.m. with the dance competition starting at 7 p.m.

“Immediately following the performances we will have open dancing,” she said.

The stars who will be dancing together include Chuck Jessup and Sharon Swearingen, Dixie Yann and William Holmes, George Levitsky and Mary Jo Thomas, Heather Fitzwater and Jerrod Calhoun, and Jonathan Rider and Christy Miller.

“They will preform one dance each for judging,” Samuels said. “We also have a feature performance by Stephanie Lopez.”

Samuels said there are special judges who will decide which couple wins. They include former West Virginia University quarterback Major Harris, Holly Kauffman, president of West Virginia Operations for FirstEnergy, and 2012 Miss West Virginia Kaitlin Gates.

Harris said he is excited to be a part of the fundraiser.

“Any time you get involved with any type of event it gets your blood going, so to speak,” he said. “This is something new and I hear that everybody has been bragging and talking themselves up, and I think that’s good.”

Samuels said the UWMC and MCCC partnered for the first time to put this type of fundraiser on because they saw that it was successful with United Ways in southern West Virginia.

“We thought that it was something that would go over well in our area too,” she said.

Samuels said partnering with the MCCC allows the nonprofit UWMC to interact with businesses.

“I really look at it as a partnership with the two entities and bringing nonprofit and for-profit businesses together,” she said.

Tina Shaw, president of the MCCC, said the two nonprofits were both thinking of putting on this type of fundraiser and decided to partner together for one event.

“I told (Samuels) let’s do this together because it’s going to be a lot of work,” she said.

Shaw said having the MCCC partnering with the nonprofit benefits both organizations.

“We brought the business community to the table,” she said. “I think it’s a win-win. We’re both nonprofits, so all the money raised is going to a good cause and it’s going to be a fun event that’s never been done in Marion County.”

As of Friday, the fundraiser sold 300 tickets, making it a sellout.

Shaw said those who cannot make it to the fundraiser can still participate in the voting for the People’s Choice Award online at www.marioncountydancingwiththestars.com.

Email Emily Gallagher at egallagher@timeswv.com or follow her on Twitter @EGallagherTWV.