Dancing with the Stars has been delighting audiences in Casper for 10 years. This year’s show, themed “On Broadway,” is a go on October 24. We chatted with Cori Cosner-Burton, executive director of Mercer Family Resource Center, about planning a desperately needed fundraiser during a pandemic.
Give us the particulars first. It’s October 24 at the events center, starting at 6 p.m. Seating is limited because the tables are spaced differently and there are fewer seats at each table. Our maximum right now is 600 and we will have six seats at each table instead of eight. Individual seats are $80 and there are table sponsorships still available as well. People can go to mercercasper.com and get tickets right there.
What precautions are you taking this year? We’ve met with the events center multiple times and we feel a lot more confident about everything after every meeting. They meet with the local health department very regularly and they are totally up on all the protocols. We are going to make sure guests will not have to wear masks because of the spacing but they can if they want. The whole room is in different quadrants now with a bar in each quadrant. The silent auction will be one-way walking traffic.
What happens that evening? There are silent and live auction packages, a plated meal and then the friendly dance competition between teams with a community leader and a dance professional on each team. The emcees are Prairie Wife Cathy Holman from the My Country 95.5 morning show and Sloan Dickey, who was at K2 TV and is now with Denver7. The grand finale is with Opera Wyoming which should be just amazing.
Who are the dancing couples this year? Tassma Powers, McMurry Companies and Aaron Wood, Wyoming Dance Arts; Michael Houck, The Michael Houck Real Estate Team at Real Estate Leaders, and Beth Jozwik, YMCA & wyOMing Yoga & Massage; Dirk Andrews, NCEA president, and Joy Gallup, Jump Craze Trampoline Park; Renee Penton-Jones, Ramkota Hotel and her son, James Stress, Carfire Productions & Actors Equity Association; Brian Helling, Helling Allstate Insurance, and Elizabeth Norcross, Lifetime Health & Fitness Center; and Cory Poulos, Occasions by Cory, and Amandie Campbell, Rising Star Tumbling & Dance Studio.
Who are your judges? Dr. Cindy Works, Melissa Mazzei, Dr. Matt Swan, Jen Dyer, Kristi Racines and Christopher Dragon.
For those unfamiliar, briefly talk about what Mercer does. We serve approximately 3,000 families a year through parenting classes, early intervention and education and empowerment programs for youth. We touch an additional 80 percent of the population through prevention messaging and we have three annual free community events, a baby shower, family day in the summer and family game night in the winter
How are state budget cuts affecting your program? We usually receive a Wyoming Department of Health biennial grant and we did not receive it this year. The last biennium it was $180,000 and we were expecting $100,000 for the next biennium — $50,000 a year — and that’s just gone. It was a huge blow to us. There are some other grants that we’re not getting too, like the city is cutting 20 percent. The community juvenile services board grant we’re getting this year but not next year. Next year is actually looking even worse than this year. These fundraisers are essential.
Follow Sally Ann Shurmur on Twitter @wyosas.
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