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‘Stars’ raises record

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“Dancing With the Stars ... Columbus Style” saw the community get in step with organizers and set a record of $100,252 in funds raised for early childhood education.

Two couples tied for most dollar votes for the event, a first in the fundraiser’s six-year history.

They were: Century 21 Breeden Realtor

Scott Taskey and dance instructor Ronda Byers.

Duke Energy’s Tom Wetherald and dance instructor/school principal Diane Clancy.

Saturday’s gathering was conducted in two performances before a combined 1,125 people at Columbus’ Clarion Hotel and Conference Center on Jonathan Moore Pike.

The event, modeled after television’s “Dancing With the Stars,” featured six couples — one local celebrity and one local instructor — in a friendly competition.

Audience members do- nated money to vote for their favorites.

The votes and sponsorships raised money for Children Inc. and Family School Partners, both devoted to preparing children in the earliest years to succeed academically and socially.

“The evening crowd was more generous than ever,” said Jacque Douglas, a co-organizer along with Brenda Flanagan. “We knew we had set the bar really high.”

Last year’s event raised $71,672, but organizers were determined to hit $100,000.

Douglas said the money raised means more children could be served in the future by the agencies.

The event marked Douglas’ last as executive director of Family School Partners. She plans to retire in June.

But Douglas said she is willing to work as a volunteer at next year’s fundraiser.

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