On Saturday Night, the Duneland Family YMCA's Dancing Like the Stars fundraiser brought the "70s" vibe back to Northwest Indiana to celebrate peace and love with the Duneland YMCA.
“I think the theme is going to set the tone for tonight,” said YMCA CEO Dave Kasarda. “People are light-hearted and easy going. We want them to support the YMCA but have fun, make it memorable. It’s really a testament to the community that people will give up their Saturdays to get dressed up and donate their time and money to help the Y. We really appreciate that.”
Attendance demanded a larger venue than previous years for this event. The Duneland staff filled the Stardust Event Center ballroom at the Blue Chip Casino along with the some most generous people in the region.
“This event funds our scholarship program,” said Kathy Harris, Committee Chair for the auction. She organized donations like a bass guitar signed by Paul McCartney or tickets for an African Safari. “From school-aged children through the elderly, we provide a learning environment and a safe environment. Through our interactions with the community, we provide love to those who aren’t getting it. If there is a lot more love, there is a lot more peace.”
“That’s what we exist for,” agreed Jane Delligatti, Marketing Director for the Y. “To help people in our community and families in need of our services, we are very fortunate to live in a community with a good quality of life but there are still those who need help.”
Bidding on those auction items were a fun way to donate more money to a worthy cause but what the crowd really came for was the dancing.
Leigh Westergren’s Cha-Cha won her the Shining Star Award. Orlee Glazer was the People’s Choice for her Hustle while Vicky Stevers won the judges' hearts with the Quickstep. Cory Helmbrecht performed the Swing with his partner, Calla Holmes, and they were given the Spirit Award.
“I’m really glad that I did it,” said Holmes, who had been apprehensive of the idea of fundraising through dance, “Because the few minutes that I can spend on stage, helping the Y is worth way more in my book than I could donate. Getting up on that stage is nothing to the impact they have made. They even the playing field, whether you are the 1% or a single mom.”
Meg McClaren, the woman behind the metaphorical Dancing Like the Stars curtain, said, “This has all been an amazing community effort. Boy does it take a village.”
It took a community wide donation of time and resources to make this year’s Dancing Like the Stars possible. Businesses from all over the region gave a part of their livelihood. Volunteers spent five months worth of free time learning how to dance. Duneland YMCA staff put in extra hours to make sure everything ran the way it needed to.
“We are not a gym,” said Kasarda. “We are not a pool, we are not a childcare facility. We are a cause.”
For more information on the Duneland Family YMCA, click here.