Set up in the spirit of “Dancing with the Stars,” the Rome Celebrity Dance Challenge benefitted the Sexual Assault Center of Northwest Georgia and raised more than $68,000, according to the center’s executive director Kim Davis. The previous year’s event raised $44,000.
“I think it went perfect,” said Davis. “I’m so excited for (the competitors) and I’m looking forward to doing it again.”
Back to defend her 2011 Judges’ Choice Award, artistic director Kathy Baird of Baird Ballet whirled a flowing white dress through the air during a routine with partner Joe Burch of the Rome Radiology Group.
With swashbuckling pirate-themed costumes, they performed to a rousing piece from the Pirates of the Caribbean. Their energy and style caught the judges’ attention and they were awarded first place in the Judges’ Choice category.
Burch said he put in a lot of hard work and was grateful for the vision of Baird and her patience through the months of training.
“I told her early, ‘Kathy, I’m trainable,’” said Burch. “She’s the key.”
Joe Vargo, owner of Vargo Orthodontics, traded his medical coat for a sleek black vest and pant suit when he partnered with Yensen Lambert who teaches Spanish at Darlington School and is a certified Zumba instructor.
Their routine sizzled to upbeat cha cha music as they glided across the stage to loud whistles and cheers from the audience. Vargo credited Lambert for her artistic perseverence and it paid off. The pair won first place in the People’s Choice category.
“It was an incredible experience,” said Vargo. “It was really enlightening.”