Local Business Owners Take to the Dance Floor in Fundraiser
BY LESLEY BRADLEY
Special to The Pilot
Local business owners often remind us to "shop local" in order to support our community. Now several local businesses are supporting the community by dancing in the upcoming Dancing with the Sandhills Stars fundraiser. On Jan. 30, Robyn James and Phil Benton, Heidi and Paul Dent, Koley and Michele Keel, and Carol Dowd and Rahmean Kamalbake will take to the dance floor in this fundraiser supporting Communities In Schools and Moore Buddies mentoring programs.
The fundraiser is patterned after the popular TV show. The dancers win by securing the most "votes." "Votes" in this competition cost $10 per vote and can be purchased online or at the event. Last year more than 350 people attended the competition and hundreds more voted online. The event in 2009 raised more than $100,000 for the two mentoring groups.
Robyn James, the owner of The Wine Cellar and Tasting Room in Southern Pines, says her claim to fame is that she is a "super-smeller," referring to her acute sense of smell and Master Sommelier certification. She does not list dancing as one of her talents, but she is eager to get on the stage and have fun raising money for the kids.
James' dance partner, local dentist Dr. Phil Benton, is stepping out of his comfort zone as well. Although he has completed four Ironman Triathalons, he has no dance training. Perhaps his self-proclaimed addiction to the TV show "Survivor" explains his willingness to dance in front of hundreds of people. He does not plan to get "voted off" the dance floor but does expect that he and James will be the "sole survivors" by gathering the most "votes" for their dance team.
Known as the "Deliman," Koley Keel owns the Village Deli in Pinehurst and is used to keeping lots of people happy. When Holly Floyd asked him to dance in the event, Keel had to say "yes," partly to keep everyone happy but also because both he and his wife enjoy volunteering for youth-focused charities. The Keels are involved with the Boys and Girls Club, the Care Clinic and The O'Neal School. Michele Keel, an optometrist at Doctors Vision Center in Southern Pines, will likely be the leader for this dance team, given what should be her extraordinary eyesight. Koley Keel has a fear of heights, but as long as the stage is not too tall this couple is ready to win.
Carol Dowd, the owner of Botanicals in Southern Pines, is known for her colorful and creative floral designs. She plans to take this same creativity and flair onto the dance floor with her husband, Rahmean Kamalbake. Even before they were asked to dance in the fundraiser, the couple had been taking ballroom dancing lessons at Fred Astaire Studio in Pinehurst. They have competed in the past and should be well-prepared to impress the crowd at this event.
Heidi and Paul Dent are deeply involved in the community. The owners of the employment screening company Hirease have worked with numerous local charities and especially focus on those affecting young people, including Moore Buddies, Moore Literacy Society and their children's schools. They have also been foster parents to three children and are currently helping to pay the college tuition for a local student.
"Helping out kids in our area ... how can you resist that?" asks Heidi Dent.
Thirty-two dancers will be competing for the most votes. Other dancers include Chris Metzger, Donna Andrews, Dan Askins, Danielle Hinesley, Justin Bode, Kathy Parson, Darrell Simpkins, Meredith Clifton, Chris Dunn, Karen Wicker, Caroline Eddy, Ben Eddy, Pete Gulley, Doris Smith, John Kranhert III, Alicia Hill, Tony Paz, Peggy Miller, Patrick Mincey, Beth St. John, Tom Stafford, Lisa Stafford, John Tampa and Julie Tampa.
"These dancers want your votes, yes, but a vote for them is a donation for the kids," said Cynthia Bradley, executive director for Communities In Schools. "Your donation will enable the good work of Communities In Schools and Moore Buddies to continue. Everybody deserves a chance to be a star."
Voting for the dancers is taking place now. Tickets to the event are also available. To vote for your favorite dancer online and to purchase tickets visit www.sandhillsstars.com or call Communities In Schools at (910) 295-1072.
Communities In Schools (CIS) is the nation's leading community-based organization helping kids stay in school, succeed in school and be better prepared for life. Moore Buddies matches youth to positive adult mentors to promote the development of healthy personal values and to provide families with education and techniques for building strong family bonds. Both organizations share the common goal of helping a child succeed through a relationship with a caring adult and are United Way agencies.
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