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Islanders boogie down to raise money for Community House

By Staff | Jan 13, 2011

Pictured above are this year’s contestants in Dancing with the Islands’ Stars, a fundraiser for the Sanibel Community Association. From left to right in the back row are Eric Pfeifer and Matt Asen, and in front are Maureen Valiquette, Cynthia Crocker, Kym Nader and Kay Casperson. The contestants are holding an image of the proposed redesign of the Sanibel Community House, where the event will be held on Jan. 21 and 22.

If you happen to see certain island residents waltzing down the street or kick-ball-changing their way through the grocery store, don’t worry — they’re just practicing for the second annual Dancing with the Islands’ Stars, which returns to the Sanibel Community House on Jan. 21 and 22.

And already, this year’s event is turning out to be bigger and better than last year’s.

“Tickets for the event sold out within an hour and a half of going on sale,” said Dancing with the Island Stars Event Chair Linda Naton. “It’s such an exciting event and it’s a wonderful way to raise funds for the Community House.”

Naton, who performed a West Coast Swing number at last year’s event, said she decided to take on the role of event organizer for the second annual Dancing with the Island Stars because she knows how important the Community House is — and she also knows that the building is in need of some major repairs.

“The Community Association is talking about rebuilding and remodeling the Community House and I think it’s a wonderful cause. There are so many great events that go on at the Sanibel Community House, and Dancing with the Island Stars is an exciting way to raise money for some much needed updates,” Naton said, noting that last year’s event raised more than $76,000.

“It was truly a rewarding experience to be a dancer last year. It’s a lot of work, but it’s just so much fun,” Naton said. “We copied a lot of what went well last year and made adjustments for this year. The dancers are going to be wonderful no matter what — we just want to make sure everything is in place for them.”

After the Saturday (Jan. 22) main event, the judges will make their decision based on the contestant’s performance — both on and off the floor.

Before the actual event takes place, each contestant collects votes from members of the community in the form of donations. The person with the most votes — and the best moves, of course — wins.

There will also be a people’s choice winner, selected by members of the audience.

This year’s contestants are Eric Pfeifer, Matt Asen, Maureen Valiquette, Cynthia Crocker, Kym Nader and Kay Casperson, and to make sure all of these islanders look good on the dancefloor, the Fred Astaire Dance Studio in Fort Myers again offered up partners, music, choreography and months of practice for each contestant.

“The Fred Astaire Dance Studio in Fort Myers provides magnificent partners for our dancers, who spend months training and getting ready for the event. It’s all very professional,” Naton said.

“Fred Astaire dance studio of fort myers is proud to be the sponsor of Sanibel Island’s Dancing with the Islands’ Stars to benefit their Community House by donating almost $13,000 worth of ballroom and Latin dance instruction,” said Fred Astaire Dance Studio Director Ganine Derleth. “The contestants on Dancing with the Stars on television practice 40 hours a week and go through six weeks of training. These contestants are only doing 15 sessions, but they’re working really hard, and we’ve actually had a few surprises along the way.”

And it’s not just the stars who are excited about the fundraiser, Fred Astaire dancer Lyndsay Ridenour said she’s thrilled to be returning as a dance partner to the Community House for a second time.

“I am so happy to be a part of such a great event again this year, raising money for the Community House,” Ridenour said. “I have met so many lovely people and I am excited to bring dancing back to the islands.”

But if you didn’t get a ticket for the event, don’t fret — several Sanibel restaurants will offer a live feed on Jan. 22, including the Lazy Flamingo, Sweet Melissa’s, Matzaluna, Sanibel Grill, The Sanctuary and Doc Ford’s.

“I invite everyone who couldn’t purchase a ticket to come out to the restaurants and enjoy the show. It’s going to be fantastic!” Naton said.

The Dancing with the Islands’ Stars rehearsal event will take place on Friday, Jan. 21, and the main event will take place the following evening, Saturday, Jan. 22.

Dancing with the Islands’ Stars is presented by the Sanibel-Captiva Trust Company.

For more information, call 472-2155 or go to www.SanibelCommunityHouse.net‘>www.SanibelCommunityHouse.net.

The Sanibel Community House is located at 2173 Periwinkle Way.