Dancing with the Stars event a hit

Sentinel photo by MATT STRICKER
Will Campbell, with Juniata Valley Bank and Christina Calkins-Mazur, with Calkins Buick GMC Subaru, in Burnham, perform a swing dance to the song ‘Candy Man’ during the inaugural Mifflin-Juniata United-Way Dancing with the Stars fundraising event. Campbell and Calkins-Mazur won the Judge’s Choice trophy as well as People’s Choice award.

REEDSVILLE — The Londonderry Restaurant was alive with excitement and energy Saturday night during the inaugural Mifflin-Juniata United-Way Dancing with the Stars event.

“It was so much fun,” said Mary Jane Drake, of Reedsville, one of more than 100 attendees. “Everyone had a wonderful time for such a good cause.”

Seven couples, who had to raise a minimum of $1,000 before the event itself, each performed a different style of dance, including Will Campbell, with Juniata Valley Bank and Christina Calkins-Mazur, with Calkins Buick-GMC-Subaru. Calkins-Mazur, dressed in a sequin and feathered leotard with matching cap, and Campbell, in a color-coordinated shirt and vest combo, ended the competition doing a swing dance to the song “Candy Man” and won the Judge’s Choice award.

“It was a great event,” Campbell said. “We were happy to do it.”

The panel of judges, made up of Phyllis Johnson, John Pannizzo and Judith Stroup, made their decisions based on each couple’s technique, poise/confidence, execution and choreography. After each couple finished their dance, three minutes were allotted for placing monetary votes, which were added to the couple’s previous fundraising and ultimately decide the People’s Choice award winners. Campbell and Calkins-Mazur took home that award as well, after totaling more than $5,000 of the $16,000-plus in funds raised for the event.

“It was a wonderful evening raising money for a great event,” Calkins-Mazur said.

Caleb Fetter, owner of Lewistown Printworks, danced the Hustle with Venus Shade, Lewistown Borough Council president.

“They looked like they were having a lot of fun and that’s what dance is all about,” Johnson said.

Nate Mark, habilitation aide for Compass Community Connections and Sherry Heller, with Gold Key Real Estate, placed second in the Judge’s Choice awards, dancing to a modernized version of “Singing in the Rain.”

“They had great chemistry together,” Pannizzo said.

“Gene Kelly would be very proud,” Stroup added.

Kirk Thomas, chief administrative officer for Geisinger-Lewistown Hospital, and Marie Mulvihill, regional director of the Primary Health Network, danced a polka to “I love polka music.”

Stroup appreciated the couple’s ability to utilize nearly all of the dance floor and Johnson simply said, “I’m ready for schniztel!”

State Rep. John Hershey (R-82) and Sayda Diaz, owner of Guante Family Restaurant, performed a modernized version of the Charleston to the song “A little party never killed nobody.”

“Like a great politician, (John) worked his way through it,” joked Pannizzo, adding “he had a strong partner.”

“Now, I want to dust off my dancing shoes,” Stroup added.

Terry Foster with MCS Bank and Mary Kay Consultant Patty Zannino paid tribute to the movie Pulp Fiction both in costume and moves, performing a mix of 1960s dances, including the Twist, the Jerk and the Pony to “You Never Can Tell.”

Stroup said their dance reminded her of her high school prom and Johnson said the couple “connected really well (and) looked so cute.”

Attorney Tom Torquato and Lewistown Mayor Deb Bargo danced a jitterbug to the song “Kansas City” and placed third in the Judge’s Choice awards.

“It was so smooth, like Fred and Ginger out there,” Pannizzo said.

“You have proved dance is timeless,” Stroup remarked.

In addition to the seven competing couples, Del and Robin Hart, as well as Doctors Raj and Pali Malhotra, gave special dance performances of the cha-cha and tango, respectively. While the judges’ and monetary votes were tallied and finalized, a large number of attendees participated in a 50/50 Heads or Tails chance game, during which those wearing pre-purchased beaded necklaces were instructed to place their hands on either their heads or backsides while a coin was tossed. Losers of the coin toss had to remove a strand of beads, eventually narrowing down to a select few people brought up onto the stage to finish the game and ending with one woman winning $500 of the $1000 raised by the necklaces purchased.

By the end of the night, the Mifflin-Juniata United Way raised more than $3,000 beyond what was needed to meet the yearly goal. Oksana DeArment, executive director said the outcome definitely points to Dancing with the Stars becoming an annual event and that she was pleased overall with how everything turned out.

“It was amazing,” DeArment said. “We had great community support. The dancers practiced really hard and it showed.”