This Saturday, feet will tap, dresses will swirl and the music will play on at the sixth annual Dancing with the Mountain Stars at the Keystone Conference Center. The event is a fundraiser for St. Anthony Summit Medical Center, with proceeds going to help fund four hospital programs that provide free support and services to the community.
The premise comes from the popular television show “Dancing with the Stars,” in which celebrities are matched with professional dancers and pitted against one another in competition for best performance. At Dancing with the Mountain Stars, the “celebrities” are figures from the local community, and the professionals come in from out of state, bringing their years of experience — including performances on “Dancing with the Stars” — to assist their partners.
Benefiting the community
In past years, Dancing with the Mountain Stars has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars, which have gone to support the hospital in various ways. Last year, for example, the money raised paid for a new Flight for Life helicopter.
“We’re very fortunate that the community has embraced the hospital and the event that supports the hospital,” said Debra Edwards, president and chief development officer of the Summit Medical Center Health Foundation.
This year, the money will be directed to hospital programs.
“In the past, we’ve always had a capital need, like the helicopter, a piece of equipment (or) expansion program at the hospital,” Edwards said. “We don’t have that need this year, so we feel the most appropriate place is to support the No. 1 priority of our hospital, which is injury prevention.”
The four programs chosen to benefit from Dancing with the Mountain Stars are SAFE KIDS, Think First, the Traumatic Brain Injury program and the Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) program.
SAFE KIDS and Think First focus on child safety when it comes to car seats and helmets.
“Each of those programs also include seat belt safety and distracted driver education in the schools,” Edwards said.
The programs offer free car seat and helmet fitting checks, and focus a lot of attention on education and awareness of the issues, particularly in schools. All the Summit County elementary schools, the middle school and the high school have interacted with the program. Programs at the high school focus not only on seat belt safety but also on cell phone safety, emphasizing the dangers of driving while texting/calling; other programs encourage kids to wear helmets during biking, skating, skiing, snowboarding and rock climbing activities.
The Traumatic Brain Injury program deals with anything from minor concussions to more serious injuries. According to Edwards, Summit County exceeds the national average in the number of traumatic brain injuries for the population, a fact most likely related to the easy access to vigorous outdoor activities.
“We’re doing a lot of work with student athletes, their parents and teachers, about how to deal with students after a concussion and how to treat it,” Edwards said.
The SANE program trains nurses to deal specifically with cases of sexual abuse and assault and provides education and awareness to the community about prevention.
“We’re constantly educating about sexual assault and sexual abuse in our community, … so we cover the 5th Judicial District (Summit, Lake, Grand, Park and Clear Creek counties), and we also serve the 9th Judicial District (Eagle, Pitkin and Garfield counties), so we’re providing services all the way over to Aspen and Rifle and everything in between,” she said.
Those services are provided free to victims and whenever possible work in conjunction with other local organizations to provide further support.
The goal this year is to raise at least $150,000 for these four programs.
Dancing for a cause
This year’s Dancing with the Mountain Stars features nine local celebrities — real estate broker Kari Canfield, High Country Healthcare doctor Javier Gutierrez, Allure Medical Aesthetics office manager Kifaya Doss, gardener and restaurant owner Jane Gansmann, nurse and former ski patroller Josh Golden, controller for Everist Materials Doug Hartley, Key to the Rockies owner and operator Mike Magliocchetti, Summit School District superintendent Heidi Pace and TV8 Summit’s Ashley Prill.
Each will participate in a specific dancing style. The dancing varieties range from the samba and the tango to the Charleston and the Lindy Hop.
The professional dancers this year include Italo Eigueta, Haylee Roderick, Averie DelGrosso, Abrea DelGrosso, Chris Jarosz and David Moon.
Heidi Pace said that she’s glad to have a professional by her side when it comes to her dance, a Viennese waltz.
“I think it will be a lot of fun. My professional dancer and my coach are just tremendous. They make you look good, and I appreciate that,” she said with a laugh.
Dancing is not a common pastime for Pace, who said the last time she took to the stage was during ballet class as a child.
For the past two months, Pace and her fellow dancers have been practicing three times a week with local coaches to get the steps just right.
“I’m happy that I’m supporting a good cause,” Pace said.
A full event
In addition to the dancing competition, Dancing with the Mountain Stars includes a reception, silent auction and dinner and dancing for all the guests afterward. There are also a few other things planned, which people will have to attend to find out.
“We’ve got a few surprises that we’re throwing in there,” Edwards said. “We try to do something different and unique every year. That way, it’s exciting and new, even if you’ve been to every one.”
Tickets for several seats are still available for purchase, and Edwards urged anyone interested to call (970) 668-6906 as soon as possible.
We’re very fortunate that the community has embraced the hospital and the event that supports the hospital.
—Debra Edwards, president and chief development officer of the Summit Medical Center Health Foundation.