Dancers or not, they're all stars

With varying levels of grace, these folks step out to serve others

How proud are you of your 2-year-old?

Bet you are. But not as proud as the local Alzheimer’s Association should be of its!

In only its second year, the association’s Dancing Stars of Augusta has become one of the premier fund-raising events of the year.

And, without a single doubt, one of the most fun and entertaining ones.

Like the television show its title suggests, Dancing Stars of Augusta pairs expert ballroom dancers with local celebrities in a night of competitive dance routines. Except that in Augusta’s case, the celebrity dancers are also tasked with raising money for Alzheimer’s programs.

In the second annual event June 8, Dancing Stars raised over $145,000. And that’s no small feet – er, feat – in this economy.

Perhaps fittingly, the top fund-raiser for this year’s Dancing Stars was Kathy Tuckey – the program and services director of the local Alzheimer’s Association chapter.

She did a great job on the dance floor, too – though a team of lighthearted but expert judges awarded Sandra McCormick and her expert partner, Val Ganiev, first place in the dancing category. Ganiev and his partner Terra Carroll happened to win the inaugural competition last year.

Of course, everyone wins with this event, particularly area victims of Alzheimer’s and their beleaguered caretakers. The funds raised will provide pure blessings for them in the coming year.

The 800 or so in the audience at the Bell Auditorium were all winners, too – most being treated to a stageside dinner, and everyone sharing an evening of dancing that ranged from the committed to the comical. Local activist and former Chamber of Commerce President Ed Presnell delighted the crowd with a top-hatted bit of cheese clearly designed for laughs but wonderfully effective, while Monty Jones Jr. stole the show with a smooth send-up of Michael Jackson.

Each of 10 celebrity dancers took months to prepare – and the contributions of the pro dancers are unforgettable.

In the end, this is more than a gift to a very worthy organization. It’s a present to the community. And it takes something that’s perfectly awful – Alzheimer’s – and overwhelms it with good cheer and good works.

It doesn’t get any better than that.

It takes so much work to put on these types of fund-raisers, and there are so many of them throughout the year – first, because there are so many needs to fulfill, and second because there are so many good people here to fulfill them.

As frivolous as a dance fundraiser might appear, these things are not small matters at all.

For one thing, it’s incumbent on us to care for our suffering loved ones and neighbors. For another thing, you’d likely be appalled at the dearth of help for Alzheimer’s patients and caregivers – particularly for a society that, in many other ways, does so much for seniors.

Moreover, while our leaders must focus more on aging issues simply for the country’s survival as the population ages, we can’t wait on government to do all we can now.

To the dedicated folks at the Alzheimer’s Association, and all our fundraising friends out there serving others, our hat’s off to all of you.

Dancing Stars returns to fight Alzheimer's disease
SPOTTED: Dancing Stars of Augusta

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