By KATHLEEN SHAW
Daily News-Record 11/18/19
They waltzed, trotted and cha-cha’d all night long.
Dancing with the Stars of the ‘Burg took place Sunday for the 10th year to raise funds for the Harrisonburg-Rockingham Child Day Care Center. Held at the James Madison University Festival Conference and Student Center, the event featured seven teams comprised of prominent members of the local community paired with experienced dancers from the Shenandoah Valley Chapter of USA Dance.
Over the years, each show has sold out and raised a total of $737,162. This year’s contestants were told to break a leg, and they went out to break records instead.
All seven teams raised over $10,000, for a total over $100,000 before Sunday night. Team Kelly May broke an individual record by being the first team to raise over $20,000, winning them the Children’s Champion trophy.
When the event was first hosted, the goal for each contestant was to raise over $5,000. Since then, ambitions have grown higher, and the camaraderie is just as strong.
Donna Harper was a contestant 10 years ago and came out Sunday in support of the fundraiser. Harper said she loves coming to the show to see each competitor’s hard work pay off on stage.
“I was one of the original dancers, so I am very supportive of the event and program,” Harper said. “My favorite part is seeing it come together because I know the practice, practice, practice that goes on behind the scenes.”
The night opened up with a performance by Libbi Fitzgerald dancing to Elvis Presley. Fitzgerald was a previous winner of the Mirror Ball Trophy — the highest award — and has raised over $100,000 herself over five years of competing.
She said she supports the event because all three of her children have attended the day care center, and participating in the fundraiser inspired her to pursue dancing professionally.
Contestant Debbie Brown’s daughter, Chrissy Zampini, showed up in support of her mother, who Zampini said has been practicing over long nights nonstop in preparation of the final dance.
“I went to the preshow and it was phenomenal,” Zampini said. “She’d be home at 9, 10 p. m. kicking her feet up, but she’s loved every minute of it.”
Harrisonburg-Rockingham Child Day Care Center has served families for 48 years and provides a sliding fee scale so any family can have access to its programs.
It will build a new day care center behind the Wells Fargo off Market and Mason streets, with construction beginning next year for a 2021 opening.
Delores Jameson, executive director of the day care center, said having a new building will allow the organization to expand the age group capacity.
“We currently offer care to children 2 through 5, and we have X amount of space to use,” she said. “When we build a new building, it will be bigger, we can take more children and we will be able to offer child care to infants and toddlers, which is a huge need in our community.”
Earning a perfect score of 30 was Team Driller, Dr. Steve Brown from Brown and Sutt and Caroline Clymer, who danced a Carolina shag.
Clymer said she was riddled with nerves before the dance, but together they decided to let the worries drop away and let their skills have the floor.
“We just decided to go out there and have fun with it,” Clymer said.