Dayton Stars to take a chance on dance

Dayton Stars to take a chance on dance

This article was published in Dayton Daily News on January 21, 2015

What began 10 years ago as a small fundraiser on Valentine’s Day has turned into one of the most unique, fun and one of the largest fundraisers in the Dayton region, as well as the perfect Valentine’s Day date! The annual Valentines Dance, benefitting A Special Wish Foundation – Dayton Chapter will once again light up the dance floor on Friday, February 13 at the Wright State University Nutter Center.

The dance was founded by three friends, Dona Niswonger, Senior Loan Officer for Union Savings Bank, Sue Miller, Business Development for M&M Title Co. and Cindy Scarpelli, Vice President and Sales Manager with Sibcy Cline, who referred to themselves as the Three Hearts. Miller and Scarpelli have since retired from the dance committee and Dona Niswonger is now chairing the event. The first dance took place in 2005, at the Dayton Masonic Temple, and had an about 150 people in attendance. One of the highlights of the dance was local professional ballroom dancer, Terry Cavanagh, owner of Elegance in Dance, who gave dance lessons to those in attendance. In 2007, the Three Hearts decided the event needed a change to make it grow and be more impactful financially for the chosen charity. Cavanaugh recommend taking advantage of the popularity of Dancing with the Stars by adding a local twist and creating a dance competition. Since then, six local community leaders, 3 men and 3 women, are paired up with six professional dancers to compete for the coveted Mirrored Ball trophy, with both a male and female winner. To make the competition more exciting, the winners are determined by audience applause. The dancers pull out all the stops to engage the audience and increase applause from their cheering section. The audience involvement is infectious and makes the dance unlike other gala event in the region.

In 2010, the Three Hearts chose A Special Wish Foundation – Dayton Chapter to be the benefactor of the funds raised at the Valentines Dance. The dance was then moved to the Wintergarden in the beautiful Schuster Center for Performing Arts. The changes to the dance and the new location brought an increase in attendance and popularity and soon the dance was a sold-out event. After 5 years at the Wintergarden and no additional room to expand, the 2015 edition of the dance, which will coincide with the 10 year celebration of the unique fundraiser, will be held at the WSU Nutter Center.

Local community leaders competing for the coveted Mirror Ball trophy this year are: Gwen Ashby, a freelance writer and consultant from Centerville working primarily in the non-profit sector; Alison Brown RN, BSN, business owner and nurse with Dayton Primary & Urgent and St E’s Urgent Care; Tiffany Kellner, a Certified Financial Planner and Chief Marketing Officer with the Cornell/Nicholson Team of UBS; Jerad Barnett, President and CEO of Synergy & Mills Development, a local construction and real estate development firm; Mark Keeton, Marketing Director at Standard Register, responsible for product development and marketing within the Product Marking & Decoration business; Tim O’Meara, President of GEMCITY Engineering and Manufacturing and the 2014 Chairman of the Board for the Dayton Region Manufacturers Association

The annual Valentines Dance is the largest fundraiser of the year for the Dayton Chapter of A Special Wish Foundation. All proceeds from the dance benefit local children who have been diagnosed with a life-threatening disorder. Through A Special Wish Foundation these children will have their wishes come true and they and their families will be provided with an opportunity to “escape” from the challenges of their diagnoses and, for a short time, forget about hospitals, doctors and needles.

On sale now, tickets for the dance are $125 for general admission or $1,250 for a reserved table for 10. Doors open at 7PM and guests will enjoy heavy hors d’ouevres, the Dancing with the Dayton Stars competition, live music provided by Gem City Jazz, dancing and a silent auction. To reserve your seat today or to learn more about sponsoring this event or donating a silent auction item please call 937-223-WISH (7494) or visit their website at


A Special Wish Foundation – Dayton Chapter is the only wish-granting organization located in the Dayton Region and is solely dedicated to granting the wishes of local children who have been diagnosed with a life-threatening disorder. Since 1983, A Special Wish Foundation – Dayton Chapter has granted over 1,600 wishes and is a registered 501(c)3, solely funded through the generosity of the community and special events like the Valentines Dance and the upcoming Super Hero Donut 5K on Saturday, April 25, 2015. Please consider joining A Special Wish Foundation and being part of making Special Wishes come true!