In just three years, Dancing with the Aiken Stars was grown from a fairly small event that sold out quickly to a spot at the area's largest venue, the USCA Convocation Center.
The fundraising event, inspired by the hit TV show “Dancing with the Stars,” just keeps getting bigger and last year more than $90,000 was donated. This year's goal, according to organizers, is to top $100,000.
For months now, 10 groups of dancers have been practicing, learning their steps, polishing their costumes and overcoming an amateur's fear of dancing in public.
Thursday night they take the stage.
The larger venue allows organizers to sell seats in the bleachers, which are still available. The event starts at 7 p.m.
The dance contest itself is where the money is raised – each vote costs $10. And even though the dancers haven't stepped foot on stage yet, their fans have already started voting on the event's website, www.aikendancers.info. So far several thousand dollars have been given, a good sign it's going to be a successful fundraiser for the Child Advocacy Center of Aiken County and the Community Medical Clinic of Aiken County.
Voting online ends 5 minutes after the last dance. Voting at the event ends 10 minutes after the last dance.
For more information about the event, go to the event's website. Arena seating is just $22 for adults and $20 for children. Tickets are available at the Convocation Center box office, the Child Advocacy Center at 4231 Trolley Line Road, Community Medical Clinic on Greenville Street and at 3 Monkeys Fine Gifts downtown on Laurens Street.
This year, the event won't be broadcast live on ASTV Channel 95 on Atlantic Broadband Cable. However, it will be aired later and DVDs of the event will be sold.
Beth Barranco & Buzz Rich
"No Parking on the Dance Floor"
Beth is a registered nurse, proud wife of a police chief, mom of four dogs and the future winner of Dancing with the Aiken Stars.
Buzz is a retired Aiken Blues Brother, a recovering attorney and an aspiring piano man.
Aja Vaugh & Ahmed Samaha
"Do You Love Me?"
For Aja, travel is her window to the world, fitness is her motivator and life is living.
Ahmed is a loving father and husband, a diehard Dawgs fan and a loyal USC Aiken Pacer educator.
Lydia Sudick-Bibeau & Cody Anderson
Lydia is an appraiser of fine and decorative art, dealer of old master paintings and an avid polo player.
Cody works for Shellhouse Funeral Home, a board member of the historic Green Boundary and has a dead sense of humor (no pun intended).
Lisa Tharpe-Bernard & Brad King
"The Best Things Happen When You're Dancing"
Lisa works for URS corporation, has performed in the Aiken community since 1998 and is the mother of eight children.
Brad is a singer, actor and karaoke enthusiast; a massage therapist, deejay, insomniac, puppeteer and unfortunate owner of two left feet.
Lyddie Hansen & Leo Muniz
"Whatever Lola Wants Lola Gets"
Lyddie is a wife, mother, grandmother and a potential member of the Dancing with the Stars protective program for when she needs to go into hiding after this show. She's also a crazy cajun who can't tell Betty Ryberg “no.”
Leo is a very reluctant dancer.
Rick McLeod, Cam Scott, Julie Adams, Susie Player
"In the Jailhouse Now" and "I Got You"
Rick is a true Clemson farmer, good cook but not a chef, has magic fingers (females only) and is a wild turkey hunter.
Cam is an architect, a Clemson fan, the non-athletic father of three very athletic boys who is married to a very understanding wife.
Julie is an artist.
Susie is a teacher, college counselor and a volunteer.
Anne Thomasson & Wesley Hightower
Anne is a jack-of-all trades, master of none and a work in progress who believes she was a Jack Russell in an earlier life.
Wesley is a very busy business owner who loves to shag.
Connie Young & David Stinson
"Little Grass Shack"
Connie is still rocking, is an extraordinary gardener and a coffee lover.
David is a Realtor to the “Stars” and a dog lover who prepared physically for Dancing with the Aiken Stars by digging a new vegetable garden.
Aileen Hord Daly & John Tiffany
"Tango of the Sexes"
Aileen is an F.E.I. dressage rider, mother of girls, volunteer diva, rescue dog angel and a lucky wife.
John is a pediatrician, the father of future Roger Federers (aka tennis dad) and a lucky husband.
Heather Pack, Jennifer Brodie, Hillary Redd, Mallory Holley, Breigh Hall, Morgan Purvis, Rakesh Jasani, Jim Anderson, Carl Hensen, Chad Matthews
"Footloose on Fire"
Heather is a fashionista, mama and a former cheerleader.
Jennifer is a Memphis-born gymnast, a Vinya supermodel and a super Quarto mom.
Hillary is part-owner of Vinya's Dress Shop and a clothes horse.
Mallory is the executive directory of the Community Health Clinic Of Aiken County, related to one of the many Holleys and a Clemson Tiger fan.
Breigh is a baking fanatic and the best wife ever.
Morgan is not a fan of arts and crafts.
Rakesh does the best cartwheel in town and owns a local business.
Carl is a vice president at MAU Workforce Solutions and an aspiring pilot.
Jim plays soccer and tennis.
Chad is a retired front man, an entrepreneur, beach bum, a hot-wings lover and tennis-star wannabe.