Home Local News Richmond County Hospice Set to Host Second “Taste of the Sandhills” and...

Richmond County Hospice Set to Host Second “Taste of the Sandhills” and “Dancing with the Stars” Fundraiser

Richmond County Hospice Inc


ROCKINGHAM – Even if it’s just for one night, the glitz and glamour of Hollywood’s extravagant movie scene will make its way to Richmond County on Saturday, September 9.

For the second consecutive year, Richmond County Hospice will host its Taste of the Sandhills and Dancing with the Stars fundraiser at The Cole Auditorium from 6 – 10 p.m. The Hollywood-themed event, RCH’s biggest and brightest fundraiser of the year, will use the funds to benefit its benevolent care and bereavement programs.

With The Cole’s own Joey Bennett serving as the emcee, approximately 325 guests are expected to attend the event. Currently, there are only 100 tickets still for sale, and can be purchased for $80 a couple, or $50 for a single ticket, and can be ordered at RCH’s location or through their Facebook page. Donations are also being accepted to benefit the event.

CEO Kristina Leyden, along with her executive team comprised of RCH’s Julie Woody and Krista Phifer, and Chief Scenic Designer volunteer Nic Wilkes, have been extensively planning the event and hope that it will be a tasteful evening for all in attendance. Wilkes, who also did last year’s event, has designed an elaborate set draped with red carpets, vintage movie posters, film reels and Oscars awards.

“This is one of our best events we put on throughout the year,” Leyden said. “We have been planning this event all year, and we want it to be a success This is very exciting for us, but the most important thing is that it’s all done for charity.”

In showcasing nearly 20 local restaurants and food vendors that include Hickory Tavern, Half Baked Creative Catering, Micasita Mexican Restaurant, Scott’s Table, and Kool Kakes Bakery and Café, guests will sample a variety of dishes from 6 – 7:30 p.m. New this year is the “Tastey Award”, which will be given to the vendor who receives the most votes as the guests’ favorite dining establishment.

The Dancing with the Stars segment, featuring 10 local couples, is slated to begin in the Cole’s banquet room following the food tasting. Dancers will display a variety of styles, including the salsa, cha-cha and quick-step. Opening the night will be two of last year’s winning couples. As numerous choreographers helped prepare the dancers, RCH would like to thank Sharon Nichols, who was a franchisee and instructor with Arthur Murray Dance Studios for 33 years, for her generosity and instruction.

The DWTS competition is formatted to allow all couples to dance their routine, and upon the judges’ review, five couples will receive a “call back” to the floor to perform the same dance a second time. Three awards will be given at this year’s competition: People’s Choice, Judge’s Choice and Hospice Choice. Guests can purchase voting tickets for $1 and cast as many votes for the couple they enjoyed best. The Hospice Choice Award will be given to the couple who raised the most funds.


The Richmond Observer’s own co-founder Lance Jenkins, and his wife Sarah Beth, will be one of the couples performing. Also hitting the dancefloor will be the Observer’s managing editor, Kyle Pillar, joined by his wife Jordyn. The other participating couples are: Walter and Pam Easterling, Joe Dumayas and Tena Graniger, Dennis Quick and Mary Catherine Moree, Seth Allen and Gabrielle Robinette Goodwin, Daniel Sweatt and Carrie Carpunky, Johnny Juarez and Angela Butler, Robert Smith and Tara Billingsley, and Juan Lopez and Karol Diaz.

As any major dance competition would have, RCH’s event has an all-star cast of professional judges. The judges, Travis Breen, Kim Menna and Eric McCotter, all represent Dancers, Inc., located in New Jersey. Other entertainment will be provided, with Stewart Neighmeyer offering the deejaying services. Guests will be able to view a RCH year-in-review video on a movie theater screen set up in the ballroom. An exhibition dance will be performed by Richmond County Schools’ public information officer Briana Goins and two-time Junior Shag Champion Sydney West. Shandi Webb will be on site to capture everything on camera.

Because the event is a fundraiser, RCH has relied upon many community sponsors and contributors. The table sponsors, which paid $1,000 to benefit the event, will receive premium seating with table hosts, among other services. This year’s table sponsors are: Big K LP Gas Company, Father Capodanno High School, Lucero, Mabry’s Drug and Home Care, Mary Catherine Moree, M.D., Remax, Tricity, Inc. and Tri-Cook Electric. There are still two table sponsorships available as of Friday.

RCH has also received several donations for the evening, including Griffin Automotive and Liberty Place. For local businesses that would like to be featured in the event program, quarter-page ads are for sale for $50, and Woody can be contacted at (910) 997-4464.

“This has been a fun event (to plan),” Woody said. “After experiencing last year’s event, and seeing how the community enjoyed it, it’s nice to offer something for entertainment purposes in Richmond County, all while supporting such an important mission.”

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Kyle Pillar is a 22-time North Carolina Press Association award-winning sports editor with The Richmond Observer. Follow the sports department on X @ROSports_ for the best in-depth coverage of Richmond County sports.