Dancing with the Johnson County Stars

Writer  /  Frieda Dowler

“Dancing with the Johnson County Stars” premier event promises to put the FUN in Fun-draising! An evening of glamour and entertainment, with a little humor on the side, will be presented by eight Johnson County non-profit organizations. Get your glitz on and join in at the historic Artcraft Theatre in Franklin on September 26 and 27 at 7 p.m.

Getting to the Soul
The reality show Dancing with the Stars has inspired fundraisers to bring their game to a whole new level. Barb Miller, event coordinator, compares traditional fundraising events to “watching someone examine belly button lint.” But not this one. Donors want to feel good about their donations, not only in their spirit but in their soul. And dancing and music get to the soul.

It’s no secret that non-profit organizations benefit our community. But what is a secret, sometimes, is how they manage to operate. It takes money, and that money comes from donations. Barb’s vision is to raise $100,000 total for this ground-level event, to be divided among eight participating agencies. If you buy your $20 ticket for Friday night’s event, they will likely exceed their goal. Saturday, results night, sold out early, prompting the organizers to add a second night.

It Takes More than High Steppin’
Prepare to be dazzled by volunteer dancers from Johnson County. They have been hand selected (or roped into it) by each of the participating agencies. If you want to know what Aaron Beasley, Emmanuel Church, has in common with Johnson County Judge Mark Loyd, come see for yourself. Can Greenwood Councilman Brent Corey compare with Rafael Sanchez from Channel 6 News? Or can the ladies of the evening, Rose Hyde, senior community volunteer, Carla Taylor, Johnson Memorial Hospital, or Stephanie Wagner, PNC Bank, top the performances by the guys? [Full list of Johnson County stars]

It’s going to take more than dancing to be declared the winner. Whichever dancer, along with his broad network, can generate the most donations will be declared the winner. Not only will they have to dance, they must have a voice in the community for the agency they are representing for the event.

The Big Idea
Now retired, Barb used her knowledge and expertise from a career in sales and marketing to plan a collaborative event, benefiting multiple agencies. She began by identifying non-profit agencies in Johnson County that:

  • Serve the entire county with their services
  • Have a strong board
  • Have a good volunteer base
  • Possess little fundraising experience

She targeted eight agencies that fit the criteria to join in this event. They agreed to one big countywide event, hoping to raise awareness of their individual mission. Each agency will host a tent in the parking lot across from the Artcraft Theatre both evenings. They invite attendees to come early and mingle with the agencies. If you’re interested in community involvement, this would be a good place to find out which agency you connect with.

  • Franklin Heritage – Historic preservation of the city of Franklin
  • Gateway Services/Access Johnson County – Providing needed services to the disabled for full community participation and opportunities
  • Interchurch Food Pantry – Alleviating hunger in Johnson County with a Christian focus
  • Johnson County Senior Services – Helping seniors maintain their independence with resources, services and referrals
  • KIC-IT – Helping youth break the cycle of homelessness and promoting independence
  • The Refuge – Providing a stable source of care for families looking to halt the course of poverty
  • Youth Connections – Serving at-risk youth through crisis intervention, community education and mentoring
  • Johnson County Historical Society – Supporting the Johnson County Museum

Preparation for this event began a year ago with a vision inspired by volunteers in Terra Haute hosting a similar event. Barb was so impressed that she dedicated her time to develop the infrastructure for this event. Once she organized the event and raised $25,000 from 23 sponsors for the infrastructure, she turned it over to the agencies to generate donations on their behalf.

Each agency selected a “dancer” from Johnson County as a representative. They were paired with an instructor from Arthur Murray Studio, whose time was paid for as part of the infrastructure. Instructors taught the contestants two “choreographed routines” for the event. Then each agency generated sponsorship and sold ads in the program. The donations they generate, they keep. Voting has already begun, proving the dancers need more than dancing skills to be declared the winner.

Outside the Box
Brent Corey, representing Interchurch Food Pantry, hopes to generate a large number of votes from Greenwood residents. He is a Greenwood City Councilman, president of Sizemore Insurance Agency, and a lifelong Greenwood resident. “I feel privileged to be in on the ground level of this event. It’s been a great experience even though it’s out of my realm.”

Brent sees himself as more serious, but one of his routines will show off his “lighter side.” It’s a salsa number, with a merengue 2/4 beat, but he wouldn’t give away the details of his costume. He says he’ll wear it even though he’s not a flashy guy. He admits it’s been fun getting out of his element for a good cause. And after 16 lessons, he will be ready for his performance.

He says Rafael Sanchez, representing KIC-IT, is the guy to beat. He seems to have the moves down pat, and Barb has him pegged as a “professional contestant” who has volunteered at other Dancing with the Stars events. The jesting is all in good fun, and Rafael has been challenged to “put the money where his mouth is.” The winner will be declared on the donations raised, not on dancing skills. The coveted “Mirror Ball Trophy” will be awarded Saturday night to the agency that generates the most in donations.

Tickets are $20 for the Friday night event. Saturday tickets are sold out. Both events begin at 7 p.m., but come by 6 p.m. to mingle and hear the sounds of live music. Popcorn, soft drinks, wine and beer (no minors allowed) will be available. Free rides on Johnson County Access buses will be available from the Franklin Community Middle School parking lot. Downtown parking is limited.

This is only the beginning of FUN fun-draising. Future “Dancing with the Johnson County Stars” events will follow. Year one has generated a lot of excitement and promises to be entertaining as well as beneficial to our entire community. So get your glitz on and your wallet out!

Ticket Information
Available at any of the agencies
The Artcraft Ticket Office
email: bmiller2995@aol.com

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