The third annual Stepping Out for Education event was held on Friday, September 21, at The Lakeland Center. Over 300 guests watched as local “celebrity” dancers, leaders in the Polk County community, strutted their stuff ballroom-style. For the last ten weeks the dancers had been taking professional dance lessons from Lakeland Ballroom and then performed at the event with their professional dance partner. All of the elements of Dancing with the Stars were there - the professional judges who each gave technical remarks and a numbered score, the lifts of the female dancers in the air, the beautiful gowns and sometimes even props.
Jan Hyman, a CPA and Polk Education Foundation board member, took home the overall champion trophy in the competition with her professional partner Ben Castellano. They performed the Fox Trot and the Paso Doble.
Gary Boyer from Boyer Building Corporation and his professional partner Debbie Kallenborn took second place. They performed the Quickstep and a Hustle/Hip Hop routine.
Ashley Bell, former marketing analyst for Workforce Education at the Polk County School District, placed third. She and professional dance partner, Ben Castellano, performed the Viennese Waltz and the Rhumba.
Lauren Schwenk, of OakleyRhinehart Cassidy, and professional dance partner Gene Kallenborn, performed the Argentine Tango and the Swing.
Ken Suarez, from FOX Channel 13, and partner Deb Boatright, danced the Peabody / Charleston and Hustle/Samba.
Jerome Ferson, with the Ledger Media Group, performed the Waltz and Cha Cha with his professional dance partner Doerta Blake.
Also performing at the competition were Dr. Dave Misch, the top overall winner in 2011, and his wife Deborah. They opted to perform the encore as a couple when Dr. Misch’s professional partner from last year was due to have a baby at competition time this year.
Two other awards were given out during the competition. The People’s Choice Award was presented to the dancer who raised the most $1 votes. The winner was Gary Boyer who raised almost $8,000! The People’s Choice voting raised $30,000 for the Polk Education Foundation. The final award given was the Audience Favorite. Guests at the event voted after seeing the two rounds of performances. The Audience Favorite award was presented to Lauren Schwenk.
The $53,000 in net proceeds raised this year will go to support three PEF programs: scholarships, AmeriCorps Polk Reads and the PEF’s Free Teacher Market. Bright House Networks, the event’s Premiere Sponsor, also earned naming rights to the PEF’s Free Teacher Market for the 2012-13 school year through their top level of support. Other sponsors of the event included Silver Sponsors: Boyer Building Corporation, Dr. & Mrs. David Misch, Lynn & Tommy Oakley, Polk State College, SunTrust Bank, Tampa Electric Company, and the PCSB Workforce Education Department. Bronze Sponsors were: Badcock Home Furniture & More, CenterState Bank, Charlie & Cindy Henry, Citizens Bank & Trust, MIDFLORIDA Credit Union, Morgan Stanley Smith Barney Lakeland, Mosaic, Oakley Rhinehart Cassidy, Progress Energy, Publix Super Markets Charities and Tracy Mouncey & Associates. Thank you to all! Our appreciation also goes to Lakeland Ballroom and their professional dancers, they are great to work with!
The 2nd Annual event grossed $70,000 to support the Polk Education Foundation. Our move to the Lakeland Center allowed us to entertain a larger crowd and guests were wowed by the performances. Dr. David Misch from the Center for Retina and Macular Disease took home the overall champion trophy in the competition with his professional partner Stephanie Allain. They performed the Quickstep and the Rumba. Deric Feacher from the City of Winter Haven and his professional partner Debbie Kallenborn took First Place in the Male Division. They performed the Waltz and a Salsa/Hip Hop routine. Katie Gernert from Clark, Nikdel & Powell placed first in the Women’s Division. She and professional dance partner, Ben Castellano, performed the Tango and the Cha-Cha. Colleen Burton, Executive Director of Polk Vision and professional dance partner Gene Kallenborn performed the Tango and a Country Melody. Robert Loftin from BB&T Bank and partner Tatyana Frost danced the Tango and Rumba. Kathryn Koch from Lanier Upshaw performed the Fox Trot and Hustle with her partner, Bill Bryant. Two other awards were given out during the competition. The People’s Choice Award was offered to the dancer who raised the most $1 votes. The winner was Dr. David Misch who raised $7,492. Kathryn Koch was second with $2,757. The People’s Choice voting raised $15,000 for the Polk Education Foundation. The second award given was the Audience Favorite. Guests at the event voted after seeing the two rounds of performances. The Audience Favorite award was presented to Katie Gernert.
The first annual Stepping Out for Education event was held on Friday, June 18, at the Lakeland Yacht and Country Club. Over 250 guests watched as local “celebrity” dancers, leaders in the Polk County community, strutted their stuff ballroom-style, with their professional dance partner. $36,000 gross, was raised at this inaugural event! Jerry Miller from Progress Energy took first place in the competition with his professional partner Vicki Seaton. They performed the Tango and the Swing. Bonnie Parker from Sun Trust Bank and her professional partner Todd Staley took second place. They performed the Tango and the Salsa. Dr. Gail McKinzie, Superintendent of Polk County Schools, placed third. She and professional dance partner, Gene Kallenborn, performed the Quick Step and the Jitterbug. Tracy Porter, Executive Director of Polk State College Foundation and professional dance partner Bill Bryant performed the Waltz and the Cha Cha. Tim Harris and Ariel Trazaskos danced the Tango and Rumba. Ariel, a trained dancer from Lakeland Ballroom, is a 2010 graduate of Lakeland High School and received a scholarship from the Polk Education Foundation this year.