Dance, charity and fun come together at ‘Mountain Stars’ event |

Dance, charity and fun come together at ‘Mountain Stars’ event

by Alex Miller
summit daily news

Summit Daily/Mark Fox

KEYSTONE – Everyone, it seemed, was there. Well, except for all those kids at the Summit High homecoming dance, perhaps, and I’m willing to bet those of us attending the Dancing with the Mountain Stars event at Keystone had a better time.

Sold out weeks ago at $150 or so a ticket, the Mountain Stars event roared into its third year with over 700 people packed into Keystone Conference Center’s largest ballroom Saturday night. The cause: raise money for the Summit Medical Center Health Foundation to buy something called a “Jackson Surgical Table” – which aids surgeons in spine and orthopedic surgeries. The entertainment: 10 local “stars” ranging from a county commissioner to a dentist paired with professional dancers from L.A.

Under the steady hand of Deb Edwards, chief development officer for the Foundation, this year’s event went off without a hitch and featured some welcome new additions. The push to further the celebrity of the mountain stars reached its peak with enormous banners depicting each dancer hanging in the lobby outside the ballroom. The challenge of seeing all the action on the dance floor was solved with two enormous video monitors on either side of the room. Also new this year was the return of two “alumni” from previous years: CMC campus dean Alton Scales returned in his striped zoot suit and fedora to reprise last year’s knockout swing number with pro Stella Choe, while State Sen. Dan Gibbs was back to wow the crowd to “Billie Jean” with pro Mandy Moore.

Ah, Mandy Moore – the linchpin in all of this looking very happy to be back in her native Summit County. We had her mom, Wendy Moore, at the Summit Daily table with us and a prouder parent would be hard to find. (Alas, Dad Bob couldn’t make it because the veteran actor had his own show to perform in Glenwood.) Mandy has taken off in her career as a professional dancer and choreographer, and we’ve all been watching her appearances on the hit show “So You Think You Can Dance” the past few years. The fact that the Foundation is able to get someone of her caliber to pull the dance side of this together is key to the event’s success, made possible by Mandy’s strong feelings for Summit County and its people.

Saturday night felt bigger than just a fundraiser for a piece of medical equipment. Watching the local dancers, who’d worked their butts off to learn the steps, out there giving it their all was amazing, but so, too, was the crowd that cheered them on and the judges who were unable to give anyone a score less than 8. The crowd roared its approval of the other professional dancers, who appeared pro bono and made the locals look almost like pros themselves. In fact, several of the local stars shone beyond what could reasonably be expected of them. Tracy Van Anderson, a fitness instructor at the Breck Rec Center, took both the judges’ and people’s choice awards with a saucy samba performed with pro Michael Riccio. Kelly Pestello, who during the day runs More Space Place, showed her dancing chops in an Austin Powers jive number with Riccio (filling in for Jeremy Hudson). Breck Mayor Dr. John Warner paired with Mandy Moore to deliver a romantic and crowd-pleasing waltz, while Keystone golf guru Steve Corneillier kicked off the evening with a spirited jitterbug performed with Jessica Reely.

Perhaps most poignant was the paso doble done by local spine surgeon Dr. Greg Poulter. Paired with pro Colleen Craig, Poulter showed his latent dance talent in a dynamic number enhanced by one underlying fact: Dr. Poulter may well be using the table all this money is being raised for.

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That fact wasn’t lost on the judges’ panel, which included Realtor Rob Neyland, Comcast’s Lisa Korry Cheek and, best of all, recently retired District Court Judge Terry Ruckriegle. Rucky brought his strong deliberative and logical powers to bear but, unlike those standing for sentence in his courtroom, the dancers got to see his lighter side. Neyland was determined to be the judge with the best one-liners and got off some good ones while Cheek took the Paula Abdul role, noting the emotions of all the dancers in their performances. Pulling it all together in the middle were emcees Roger and Teresa Moen, who did a nice job keeping it lively and moving forward.

Wrapping things up, as they have in the past, the pros did a fun number to an old Donna Summers’ disco song, after which the rest of the crowd either split to go pick up the kids or hit the dance floor to work a little star magic themselves. All in all a wonderful night for a great cause and one that will no doubt be eagerly anticipated for next year. But the Foundation is going to need a bigger room …