Dancing for a Cause raises funds for YMCA, showcases 12 area leaders

April 14, 2018 GMT

On Thursday night, April 12, a dozen area leaders paired with dancing pros for The Woodlands YMCA’s Dancing for a Cause, a spinoff of the TV show Dancing with the Stars, hosted at The Woodlands Waterway Marriott.

The sixth annual Dancing for a Cause charity event featured dancing, a silent auction and live entertainment. All proceeds from the evening benefitted the YMCA.

The event raised money through sponsorships, ticket sales and auctions, said Roxanne Davis, a community liaison with The Woodlands Family YMCA at Shadowbend and Branch Crossing. Guests could even purchase votes for their favorite dancer.

“Funds raised support the YMCA’s annual campaign,” Davis said. “Dollars raised for the campaign helps the YMCA be available to all regardless of financial resources.”

The money will be used to provide financial assistance so local children, teens, families and seniors can enjoy all the programs the YMCA has to offer, regardless of their ability to pay, Davis said.

“The Y believes that everyone should have the opportunity to reach their fullest potential and grow in spirit, mind and body,” she said.

The following year’s dancers are determined in part by guests who fill out “Dancer Interest Cards” on the night of the event. Current dancers and sponsors can nominate community “stars” to dance, too, Davis said.

Patricia Rochester owns and directs the studio at Patricia’s Dance Lessons on Kuykendahl Road in The Woodlands, which partners with the YMCA each year for the annual event. She was the dance coordinator—hiring dance staff to pair with The Woodlands’ dancers—as well as the artistic director for this year’s Dancing for a Cause. Rochester also choreographed some of the performances.

Rochester said dancers do not have much time to learn their routines once they are selected for the event.

“The initial meet and greet is in the end of January, and the show always in mid-April, so that gives them approximately two months to learn a dance, learn choreography and get it ready to perform,” she said. “It’s quite a bit for a ‘non dancer.’”

However, Rochester’s skill and experience are a good match for almost any dancer trying to learn a new routine with a new partner.

“I’ve been dancing for 17 years, and teaching for almost 10, and anybody can dance,” she said. “Of course some people are better than others—some learn faster and some others not so much—everybody is different.”

Rochester has choreographed and been a performer for Dancing for a Cause since its first year in 2013. She said last year was her first time as a dance director.

“It’s a pleasure to be invited and trusted for such role on this amazing event, for an organization such the Y that does so much for the community,” Rochester said.

In first place by raising more than $10,000, was dancer Whitney Montgomery, who is a physicians assistant in neurology with Mischer Neurosciences Memorial Hermann the Woodlands and is also the social editor for The Woodlands Lifestyles and Homes magazine. She said she was stirred to move past her comfort zone after attending the event in the past and responded without hesitation when Davis called her to accept the nomination.

“I have not danced in years and I have never been exposed to this type of dancing,” Montgomery said.

Montgomery grew up in The Woodlands and was on the Highsteppers Drill team at McCullough High School.

“After high school, I was a cheerleader for one year with a professional football team,” she said. “Since that time I have not had the opportunity to dance.”

Montgomery said there were many dance lessons with her partner, Jorge Barquet, in preparation for the final show. But it was not just about the dancing for her.

“Fundraising and educating others on what this event is about was the biggest part of the preparation for me,” she said. “I want to feel confident onstage and have fun, but most importantly I want to make sure that the focus stays on the ‘why’ of this event.”

Guest Ursella Waller showed up to the event to support dancer Krstyal Hopton of CHI St. Luke’s Health The Woodlands.

“I’ve never been to this event—this is my first time,” Waller said. “I’m hoping to be in all the hoopla and hurrah and yelling and all that good stuff and have a good time. A lot of my coworkers and staff are going to be here supporting this great person.”

Miguel Lopez is the executive director of Lone Star College System’s Small Business Development Center and was selected to judge at this year’s event, a job title that comes with mirth and commentary. He said the judges are there to critique the dancers’ costumes and dance style and “have a little fun with them.”

Lopez was a dancer the first year of Dancing for a Cause and said he is a “big believer” in the event and happy to be back as a judge.

“I can’t say enough about what the Y does for the community, the family, the kids,” Lopez said. “And to be able to come together and do something like this where people get to have fun, come watch loved ones dance, get to cheer them on and support them, but at the same time you’re raising money for a great cause.”

After the competition, awards were doled out, including first place to Montgomery; Runner Up to Dr. Jenifer Powers; and Honorable Mention to Krystal Hopton

Montgomery said winning first place was the icing on the cake for her at this year’s Dancing For A Cause.

“I set out to raise $10,000 to support the Montgomery County YMCA and the outcome far exceeded my expectations,” she said. “I can’t stop smiling. The hard work put in with my partner definitely paid off and I hope he enjoyed this as much as I did. I wanted to make him proud.”

For more information on YMCA Dancing for a Cause and to find out the 2018 winners in all categories, visit www.ymcahouston.org/dancing-with-the-woodlands-stars.