Valentine’s Day kicks off with ‘Dancing for Wishes’ event

The 12th annual Valentine’s Dance benefiting A Special Wish Foundation — Dayton will be held at the Wright State University Nutter Center from 7 to 11:30 p.m., tomorrow, Friday, Feb. 10.

This unique one of a kind event features a night of dancing, a live band, and amazing food and drinks. The highlight of the evening will be the Original Dancing with the Dayton Stars competition where six local community leaders are paired with professional dancers to “compete” for the coveted mirrored ball trophy.

This year’s dancers are Lee Anne Austria, marketing director of Bright Smiles Dental Group; Kathryn Oakes, chief of staff, Heidelberg Distributing Company; Ramona Vikan, director of acquisition and program management services at TACG; George Brockman, president and owner of Wm. Brockman & Sons, Inc.; Brad Eaton, vice president of corporate partnerships for the Dayton Dragons; and Kurt Lenhart, vice president and corporate compliance officer at CareSource. All professional dancers and rehearsals have been managed and directed by Barbara Haller, owner and operator of Arthur Murray Dance Center Dayton.

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 — and 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 Cavanaugh 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 financially impactful for the chosen charity. Cavanaugh recommend taking advantage of the popularity of “Dancing with the Stars” television show by adding a local twist and creating a dance competition. 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. This is an event not to be missed.

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. A Special Wish Foundation – Dayton is grateful to all the local and professional dancers for their time, generosity, and dedication in helping to make the dance a huge success and most importantly grant the wishes of local children.

Tickets are still available. Tickets are $150 for general admission or $1,500 for a reserved table for 10. Doors open at 7 p.m. 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.