‘Stars’ fundraiser earns nearly $60,000

Last weekend’s “Dancing with the Stars … Columbus Style” drew a combined crowd of about 900 people for two shows and nearly $60,000 in receipts.

Fundraising totals fell short of $100,000 brought in last year, when a bigger field of dancers generated more donations. Members of the audience vote for their favorites, making a $1 donation for each vote cast.

Children Inc. and Family School Partners will receive about $25,000 each after event expenses are paid, said Brenda Flanagan, executive director of Children Inc.

While they hoped to raise more, Flanagan said organizers were nonetheless pleased with the outcome.

“$60,000 really is in line with what we did in the previous years,” she said.

The funds will go toward Children Inc.’s child care program and early childhood education programs at Family School Partners.

Flanagan said the money Children Inc. receives will pay for anything from costs of operations to school supplies.

“If we have children who are on our waiting list and are needing scholarships, we will use some of those dollars,” she said.

Stacy Findley, program coordinator at Family School Partners, said the funds make up about 25 percent of the organization’s annual budget. Getting the money means more families will have the opportunity to use the group’s services.

Those opportunities are available to families with children who are infants and up to 5 years old. The program is free, Findley said, and wouldn’t be possible without the dancing event.

“Dancing with the Stars is very important for our organizations because we actually rely on the funding,” Findley said. “Where it is just a great event for the community, essentially it is an event that funds our programs.”

Flanagan said the success from last year’s dancing contest could be attributed to a variety of circumstances:

There were eight dancing groups compared with five this year.

There were more voters involved last year.

Early voting was successful last year.

All seats for last year’s matinee and nighttime performance sold out.

Organizers said they were appreciative of the community support and the commitment from dancers and event volunteers.

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Here’s a list of the couples who danced who finished in the top three at the “Dancing with the Stars … Columbus Style” competition, ranked by amount of donations:

1. April Williams and Brent Byers

2. Christopher Bartels and Jana Bartels

3. Brett Vanderkolk and Charlotte Battin