Sunday, 15 September 2019 20:36

Dancers raise around $60K under the big top for Richmond County Hospice

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Neil Robinette enters the stage on a unicycle for he and wife Catherine's Michael Jackson-inspired routine at the fourth annual Richmond County Hospice Dancing with the Stars on Saturday. The Robinettes won the People's Choice Award. See the Richmond Observer's Facebook page for more photos from the event. Neil Robinette enters the stage on a unicycle for he and wife Catherine's Michael Jackson-inspired routine at the fourth annual Richmond County Hospice Dancing with the Stars on Saturday. The Robinettes won the People's Choice Award. See the Richmond Observer's Facebook page for more photos from the event. William R. Toler - Richmond Observer

HAMLET — A sense of amusement park excitement mixed with a side-show adventure filled the Cole Auditorium Saturday night.


The entrance was decorated with a Coney Island theme, designed by Nic Wilkes. Folks who were dressed in carnival-type attire greeted and mingled with attendees on arrival for the fourth annual Richmond County Hospice Dancing with the Stars fundraiser. 

With this being Hospice’s biggest fundraiser, folks from Richmond and surrounding counties came to support the cause. 

Once again Mabry’s Drug and Home Care sponsored the event. 

Doors opened early for VIP ticket holders as well as table sponsors. Numerous restaurants from Richmond and neighboring counties participated in Taste of the Sandhills. Lowe’s Foods of Southern Pines won for Best Sweet Treats, Taco Loco won for Best International Restaurant, and The Grill won the Tasty Award. 

After filling up on food, attendees entered the auditorium where they would be filled with entertainment. 

Chris Herring, one of last year’s dancers, came on stage with a feather duster before picking up a guitar and performing “Never Enough.” 

The curtain lifted as The Big Tent was then revealed, as the Coney Island Crew danced to the opening number. 

Cole Director Joey Bennet, who served as emcee and ringmaster, introduced last year’s returning champions — Jason and Jessi Graham, J.C. and Karen Everette, and Hunter Smart and Kaiyah Sriratanakoul — who performed to “Circus Medley.”

This year’s 12 teams, who would shortly be taking the stage, were also introduced. The three returning judges were: Travis Breen, who has performed throughout the world; Kim Menna, with more than 35 years of performing arts experience; and Eric McCotter, who has also performed worldwide. 

There was a short intermission as Physical Awareness & Gymnastics entertained the crowd. 

The 12 teams comprised: Blake Altman and Courtney Odom; Terrell Everette and Creeta Marshall; Dalton Williams and Tammy Joyner; Zach and Rachel Pessagno; Sam Williams and Kary Edmondson; Cleve Baxley and Sabrina McDonald; Allen Cox and Meredith McDonald; Marvin and Hannah Taylor; Charity Davis and Nikki Fletcher; Meto and Karen Allen; Neil and Catherine Robinette; and Tavares Bostic & Belinda Whitley. 

The first six teams danced following a short intermission which opened a dance floor in the lobby for attendees to enjoy. 

The final six teams then completed the dancing as each judge gave their scores. Out of all the teams, there was not a score lower than eight. Two teams scored perfect tens: Marvin and Hannah Taylor; and Neil and Catherine Robinette. 

Some of the judges’ comments to the teams included:“I loved it;” “Footwork was amazing;” “Loved the way you grooved across the stage;” “Beautiful smile;” “I love a man in chaps;” “Great energy and stage presence;” “Very entertaining;” “Amazing chemistry;” “The moonwalk sealed the deal; “Costumes were great;” and many more words of encouragement as well critique.

Following the third intermission, the top six teams  — Altman and Odom, Everette and Marshall, the Pessagnos, Williams and Edmonson, the Taylors and the Robinettes — competed in a dance-off. 

Following was one last intermission, which included a patriotic variety by VFW Post 4203 Auxiliary President Robin Roberts, Pete Leyden singing the national anthem, and Eric Whitfield performing Billy Ray Cyrus’ “Some Gave All,” as silhouettes of the American flag covered the sides of the auditorium. 

Next was the moment all had been waiting on — the announcement for the winning teams: the People’s Choice Award went to the Robinettes; the Hospice Choice Award, for the team raising the most money prior to the event, went to Baxley andMcDonald; and the Judge’s Choice Award went to the Taylors.

The night under the Big Tent ended with Hospice CEO Kristina Leyden’s closing remarks as well as her expression of appreciation to all who supported the night. 

Leyden said Sunday that between the pre-show fundraising and the money collected Saturday night, this year’s Dancing with the Stars brought in around $60,000 — nearly triple the first year’s bounty of $23,000.

To find out more about Richmond County Hospice, call 910-997-4464 or visit richmondcountyhospice.com.

 

William R. Toler contributed to this story.