Movers & Shakers Gala: And the winner is …
A sold-out ballroom of more than 520 were wowed by a spectacular night of celebrity dancing in an evening of fun and fundraising at the fourth annual Movers & Shakers Gala, a benefit for Lakeland College and the Sheboygan Symphony Orchestra, held May 21 at Lakeland.
This star-studded night featured eight well-known celebrities in a glamorous setting complete with red-carpet glitz and gourmet cuisine.
Lakeland's Todd Wehr Center was once again transformed into a beautiful ballroom, including a dance floor framed by wall-to-wall carpeting, a massive lighting setup and huge video screens that put a who's who of Sheboygan County in the spotlight.
The celebrities were each paired with a professional dancer, and after months of training they competed to win the support of four judges and the guests, who were busy buying votes both in the ballroom that evening and online for weeks leading up to the event.
Each dancer also selected a local charity or nonprofit organization that benefited from their efforts. Half the proceeds from the votes sold for each dancer go to these special organizations.
Dana Bemis won top honors for the night as her spirited version of the Latin medley earned her the Movers & Shakers Gala title for 2011. Votes for Bemis also benefited the Sheboygan County YMCA.
Suzie Herold's knockout performance of the samba wowed the room and earned her the Judges' Choice Award. This award was presented to the dancer who exhibited the most outstanding technical performance. Herold's efforts also benefited the Kyle Neurohr Scholarship Fund, a cause dear to her heart.
The evening was filled with a wide array of performances that brought the audience to its feet several times. Other local celebrities in the Movers & Shakers lineup included:
The audience got a preview of the 2012 Movers & Shakers Gala when eight dancers for next year were introduced. The group includes Mary Amundson, Lisa Brotz, Josh Gentine, Sheri Murphy, Beth Olson, Barb Quasius, Michelle Quasius and Dr. John Reitz. A ninth dancer spot was successfully auctioned off at Saturday night's event.
The fifth annual Movers & Shakers Gala is set for May 19, 2012.
Saturday evening alternated between celebrity dancing, a multi-course gourmet meal and a number of unique live auction items. William Weissert, executive director of the Sheboygan and Plymouth Area United Way, served as host for the evening.
Deborah Wente, chair of the Movers & Shakers organizing committee and a member of the Lakeland College Board of Trustees, said the Gala delivered yet another night of un-paralleled entertainment and community support.
"There was a buzz in this year's crowd all night as, one after another, our dancers turned in amazing performances," Wente said. "The dancers help us find new and interesting ways to keep this event fresh. Lakeland and the Sheboygan Symphony are two deserving community resources, and we're proud to help our dancers benefit organizations that are close to their hearts."
Martha Laning, executive director of the Plymouth Intergenerational Center, joined returning professional judges Sandi Vasatka and Jessica Mueller, and new judge Dr. Drew Campbell, owner of Campbell Facial Plastic Surgery.
Laning was selected after a member of the Gentine family won a live auction to be a judge for the night. Campbell won the "Be a Judge" auction item in 2008 and was invited to return. The judges' scores count for 25 percent of the final results.
The meal was prepared by Lakeland's food service and served by over 100 enthusiastic, hard-working volunteers from Lakeland, the SSO and the community. Guests sat in beautifully-decorated tables surrounding the dance floor.
Major sponsors of the 2011 Gala were the Frank G. and Frieda K. Brotz Family Foundation and Sargento Foods Inc.