Cassy TullyCassy Tully

Most know Cassy Tully as an accomplished artist who has created incredible landscapes using her signature relief-painting technique.

Not as many may know that dance was a central part of her creative development.

"I love to dance; it's a part of me and it has been for many years," Tully said. "Dancing in the Gala is not about me, it's about using my God-given gifts to give back."

Tully grew up in the Milwaukee suburbs and her parents encouraged her to try a variety of opportunities to nurture that creative spirit, including dance. She took ballet as a child, and then got involved in a cheerleading program in middle school that led to participation in the well-known New Berlin Eisenhower High School dance team. Her mother was the program's coach, and the experience included dancing in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade and winning a state championship.

Her dancing career continued while she was an art student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison as a member of a competitive dance team. After college, she took some ballroom lessons, and when she moved to the area, she was hired as a choreographer, helping the Plymouth High School dance team make its first state tournament berth.

She estimates it's been about five years since she did serious dance, but she's finding it's like riding a bike.

"The bike's a little rusty," she said with a laugh. "Gravity is real. But I'm revisiting a lot of stretches and leg lifts, and the muscle memory is coming back."

Dancing in the Gala is a natural progression for her involvement with this event. One of Tully's paintings was featured in the 2011 Movers & Shakers live auction, and it was a watershed moment in her career as it was one of the first significant fundraisers for her artwork.

"That experience shaped how I go about my philanthropic passion and pursuits," Tully said. "It opened the door for me to a number of other big charities. This community, and especially the Movers & Shakers Gala, have been formative in how I've been able to give back.

"I would not be the fundraising force I am without my first Movers & Shakers experience. Lakeland and this community are awesome!"

Cassy's partner is Neil Hollingworth.