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Dancing (06/20/2012)
By Frances Edstrom
Surprise! I bet no one thought they’d see my face here in Fran’s spot. For those of you who don’t recognize me, I am her daughter, Morgan Gish. I have to be quick about this because I told my mom there were Bloedows doughnuts in the conference room and someone might let her out any minute.

I am taking her place in the Post this week to tell you about an upcoming event you should all try to get out and see. On Saturday, August 11, Winona’s “Gotta Dance” is putting on their fourth annual Dancing with Winona Stars 2012 charity fundraiser.

This year, they have selected me to be a contestant. “Me?!” I thought to myself. “Huh.” Now why would they select me? It can’t be because of my dancing prowess. (The last time I danced seriously was when I was 8 years old in Fannié Kierlin’s ballet class. She had to call my mother in to spy on me because while the other girls were doing their plies at the barre, I was hanging from my knees like a monkey.) So that couldn’t be it. It couldn’t be because I’m famous. I googled myself – not much out there. Well, it finally hit me. I am perfect free advertising! I have an entire newspaper at my disposal (as long as my mom stays locked in the conference room) and I can get the word out to everyone about this entertaining and charitable event.

Dancing with Winona Stars originally started as a fundraiser for Gotta Dance students to raise money for competitions. Contestants are selected to dance with professionals in a competition much like TV’s Dancing with the Stars, but with one huge difference. Winona’s Stars are volunteering their time to raise money for a local charity of their choice. This year is even more special because Gotta Dance has structured the event so that 100% of the money raised by each contestant will go directly to the charitable organizations.

The charity I chose is Home and Community Options. HCO is a local private non-profit organization that helps out adults and children with developmental disabilities and their families in our community. They rely heavily on government funds (which have been considerably trimmed down) and individual donations. This year, the funds I raise will be used to purchase a portable lift system for a residential home in Winona. The lift system is designed to assist people to transfer from one situation to another within their home, the community, and vehicles. It will help medically fragile people to enjoy their surroundings and continue to be with people important to them. It also prevents injury to staff that assists. These puppies run around $10,000 so all donations, big and small, are greatly appreciated.

Now… I have to come clean. I have another, not-quite-so charitable, reason I would like you to donate to HCO. This is a competition. Half of my individual score is based on how well I perform. The judges will critique my style, energy, and grasp of the fundamentals of the dance I choose. My partner, Paul Ebner, is a total pro but he has his work cut out for him. However, (Wahoo!! I still have a chance!!) the other half of the star’s overall score is determined by votes collected! Votes are obtained by paying $1 per vote for a designated star or charity. So every dollar I raise will also help ME! There is no limit on voting. You can vote one time or 10,000 times. You may notice posters and vote canisters bearing the contestants’ faces around town put up to raise awareness and money. The vote canister bearing my face and organization are set up at Betty Jo’s, Bub’s, Dan’s Dugout, Ground Round, and Holtan’s Jewelry. (Thanks guys!!) You can even give me money if you see me walking down the street. Just make sure I put it in my left pocket. We accept cash or checks made out to Home and Community Options. You can also cast your vote with the star, charity, or with a Gotta Dance competition student or parent, or send your vote into Gotta Dance/DWWS 1733 Service Dr, Winona, MN 55987.

So please, help support HCO (…and me!). You are all welcome to check out the event too! Again, it will be held on Saturday, August 11, on the campus of Saint Mary’s University in the Gostomski Fieldhouse. They have already begun selling tickets to the show. A $30.00 ticket holder is given early admission between 6 – 7:15 p.m. Hors d’oeuvres will be served. A $15.00 ticket offers general admission to the show at 7:15 p.m. General admission tickets will be sold the day of the show provided they are still available. So we encourage people to buy their tickets in advance. A cash bar will be available throughout the evening. Last year was a sell-out show! We look forward to seeing you there!!!



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