Dancing With the Stars Comes to Robeson County as Fundraiser to Keep Families Together


Angelica Chavis-McIntyre dances in her cheerleading outfit for her “Shake It Off” routine with Jason Cox. Photo by Octavia Johnson

The United Way hosted its fifth annual Dancing with the Robeson County Stars on March 24 at 6 p.m. and raised over $580,000, which was above the organization’s goal.

The event was to help benefit the Robeson County Family Treatment Court. United Way wanted to help raise money to keep families together in Robeson County. Tickets for a table were $30 and voting cost $10.

The show kicked off with the UNCP volunteers helping provide drink, food and deserts to the guests who attended.

“You guys are on it today,” one of the guests said to a volunteer. Show Directors Lisa Thoman and Jason Bullock both work at the United Way and were just as excited for this event.

“We were a little worried this year, tickets weren’t selling quickly like they usually do,” Bullock said. “As you can see it was a great turn out and tickets sold out tonight.”

The event opened with Latricia Freeman doing the welcome and showed a video of what the United Way does as an organization. Judge Stan Carmical talked about helping the children and parents in the Treatment Core.

The money raised went into the Treatment Center, which supports families with the treatment necessary to keep families in the community together.

“Why should family Treatment Core get my money?” Carmical asked rhetorically. “We have a proven track record of success.” Emcees Morgan Hunt-Jones and Stephen McIntyre were full of energy to start the dance competition and showed videos of each team.

Thoman was also excited. “They came a long way from the beginning of their rehearsal to Thursday night’s stress rehearsal and finally at Saturday for the real performance,” Thoman said.

The dance competition started with the first five teams. Judges Donnie Douglas, Jessica Lowery and Tiffany Peguise-Powers were ready to judge the performances. Judges believed the event was going off into a great start with team one, Rhonda Williamson and Jon Davis, in the opening. At the end of their performance Lowery was loving the duo.

“Now Rhonda, that’s some coverage you can count on,” she said. Next duo was team two, Michelle Godwin Hunt and Charles Townsend, with their “mailman” dance performance. The judges loved every minute of it, especially Hunt’s comment in their team video which had the audience in laughter.

“You know what they say everyone loves a little salt and pepper,” Hunt said. Hunt was also inspired to do this dance for the cause. “Being a teacher, I see first-hand the impact of parent and student separation,” she said. “Not just in their academic performance, but in their social interactions with others, so just to be able to be here for the experience will really help this program.”

Team three, Michele Smith and Bryan Britt, gave a slower dance performance that had the crowd in “ah,” while they did their ballroom dance. “I’ll say this performance was pretty sweet,” McIntyre said.

“Let’s hear what the judges had to say.” Lowry was loving team three’s sweet performance. “Bryan you made that look delicious,” she said. Team four, Cat Gaines and Joe Terranova, came out with their casual wear to hop, skip, and turn into the competition. Peguise-Powers was into the performance.

“Alright, sun’s out, guns out,” Douglas said. “I’ve been a Cat fan since I’ve met you, but I didn’t know you could dance girl, good job.” Last, team five, Jill Britt and Owen Thomas, came in and then ended their dance with a striking pose. Britt’s family gifted the dancer with flowers. With the first five teams resting, the Emcees stopped the event for a 15-minute intermission.

UNCP volunteers made sure everyone got refills on drinks and helped them with their voting cards. After the break, the Emcees returned and got everyone excited for the next five contestants. Team six, Kristy Locklear and David McClish, came on stage with a party disco theme in their performance. When asked what they would like to say to the judges, McClish said – be nice.

“This takes me back to college when I was the disco king,” Douglas said. “I actually wrote be nice down here and Jessica saw it and said, that’s hard for you isn’t it?” The audience roared with laughter as the judges finished their comments for team six. Team seven, Terri Massol and Tim Little, came in while the lights were dim before they started hitting a smooth and sensual routine. Little’s great-aunt died before the competition, but he still made it to help with the cause. And the judges loved the chemistry between the two dancers.

“Who knew that a southern minister could drop it like it’s hot?” Lowery said. Ending the judging, Peguise-Powers joked about the two needing to hit the confessional after their steamy performance. Team eight, Marla Bullock and Dennis Powers, hit the stage with a “jail house rock” theme and a swing in each step that made the audience go crazy. At the end of their routine, people were cheering and some stood up for the duo.

“Tell us about the footwork, did that start on the football field?” McIntyre asked. “Well it probably started a little bit there, big guys who were really fast might scare you enough to make you move fast,” Powers said.

“But the inspiration tonight was Ms. Marla and trying to keep up with her.” Judges were impressed with the team on their performance.

“Who knew we had all that in the Robeson County jail?” Lowery joked. “Loved it, y’all looked fabulous.” Up next was team nine, Tanya Underwood and Hector Miray, whose performance consisted of suits and handcuffs. Miray had a friend take off his handcuffs, but it took a while before they came off.

Even though there was a delay, the “mafia” routine was energetic and had a lot of moves to it, which the crowd loved. At the end of the performance, the duo threw the mic stands down and lifted their hands to the crown.

“I think while you were practicing you were wearing your shoes out,” McIntyre said. “Did you wear out the soles?” Miray, out of breath, admitted they may have done so, just a little bit. Lowery gave a compliment to Underwood on her performance. Last, team ten, Angelica Chavis-McIntyre and Jason Cox, stroll in with a skit before they introduced themselves on stage to dance to “Shake It Off,” by Taylor Swift.

McIntyre, in her cheerleading outfit, danced her way through with her break dancing moves with Cox in his football uniform. At the end, emcee McIntyre asked Cox what was it like dancing with his wife?

“It was great. We had a lot of fun, and I enjoyed it,” Cox said. After the last performance, all the teams returned, while the votes were being tallied to see who won the following awards: best dance, best dress and the top prize for Dancing With the Robeson County Stars.

The emcees also acknowledged people who helped put in for the cause and volunteered to help with the event, including UNCP volunteers. Sandra Oliver, the former executive director of the United Way, put almost half a million dollars into the cause.

“I truly got to see the best in Robeson county,” Oliver said. “It takes a whole county to come together to make United Way work.” Then the teams went on stage and danced a little while voting was in progress.

Oliver danced along with them as she celebrated her last walk with the United Way. Finally, they called out the awards for the night. Best dance was awarded to Marla Bullock and Dennis Powers, best dress went to Angelica Chavis- McIntyre and Jason Cox and the winners of Dancing with the Robeson County Stars was awarded to Cat Gaines and Joe Terranova.

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