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They Could've Danced All Night

November 7, 2011 - Phyllis Sigal
it was a night of glitz and glamor, sequins and leopard print, a lot of laughs and even a few tears for season one of Dancing with the Ohio Valley Stars, a great evening to benefit a great cause — the Augusta Levy Learning Center.

Everyone was entertained, and around $25,000 was raised in the process!

It's wonderful any time a new fundraising event comes along. But when it's one as well done as this one, you've got a keeper on your hands.

Kathy Shapell, director of the ALLC, is all about the kids. She couldn't be more dedicated to the children and to her school, which she established in 2005. It is the only intensive autism treatment program in West Virginia.

It was Kathy's idea to have the DWT(OV)S event, and she put it all together. She even wrote the script for emcees Pat Cassidy and Kat Wilcox.

The event was held at the Osiris Shrine Temple on Saturday, which holds about 300 people. But, she noted, with ticket inquiries and a waiting list, she probably could've sold another couple hundred seats!

The "Pat and Kat Show" spiced up the evening with their jokes, introductions and a few songs ... Pat sang a parody of Eric Clapton's "Wonderful Tonight," bemoaning the fact that he wasn't asked to dance, and he would've "been wonderful tonight."

The evening went off like the real DWTS, with videos of each team, a dance performance, comments from the judges and a few comments from the contestants. Exhibition dances added to the entertainment factor.

Judges included MMA (mixed martial arts) cage fighting champ Travis "The Terror" Clark, who was supposed to dance, but injured himself training for a fight; Jill Ruff, who owns Marietta Dance Academy, and is the daughter of Sherry Burkhart of Burkhart Dancenter; and Cali Young, Miss West Virginia 2010. Cali was the "Simon Cowell" of the trio. Travis was a man of few words, and Jill was kind to everyone in a Paula Abdul kind of way.

Dancers included:

• Bruce Wheeler, executive director of the Wheeling Symphony and founder/director of Heritage Music BluesFest, and his instructor Elise Shaffer, who did a swing dance to "Rock Around the Clock. Elise is not only a dance teacher, but a therapist at Augusta Levy, as well.

• Bob Bailey of As You Like it Catering and the Gala Group, with Lindsey Bugaj, performed a lindy hop to "Good Golly Miss Molly."

• Jim Forbes, an anchor on WTRF, with Allison West, performed a cha cha to "Forget You."

• Ryan Ferns, a West Virginia delegate and physical therapist, did some jive dancing with Lacey Baker to "Great Balls of Fire."

• David Blomquist, WWVA radio talk show host, performed a salsa with Mandy Baker, to the tune of "I Know You Want Me."

The dance instructors and their students started rehearsing for the event about six weeks prior to the competition, each giving a good chunk of their time to brush up on their steps. But all of them, I bet, would say it was worth it. The general consensus was that a good time was had by all!

A beautiful "disco ball" trophy was awarded to Season One winners, David Blomquist and Mandy Baker. Also receiving trophies were: best choreography, Lacey and Ryan; best costuming, Bruce (in a leopard print jacket and shades) and Elise (in a poodle skirt); most entertaining performance, Jim and Allison; second runner-up, Bob and Lindsey; and first runner-up, Lacey and Ryan.

But everyone will agree, the real winners of the evening were the kids of the Augusta Levy Learning Center.

Congrats to all, and a special thank you to Kathy Shapell for all she has done to make this school a reality.


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Best Costuming: Bruce "The Big Bopper" Wheeler with Elise Shaffer


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