One of the fastest-growing fundraisers in Charlotte is Dancing with the Stars of Charlotte for The Pink House, a benefit for Caroilna Breast Friends. Since 2016, it’s raised more than $1.55 million to support the services the nonprofit Carolina Breast Friends provides for those with breast cancer in our community.
Modeled after the popular Dancing with the Stars TV show, it pairs professional dancers with community leaders. Each team performs a ballroom dance number that is scored by judges from the competitive dance world. Audience members also get to vote for their favorite star by making donations to Carolina Breast Friends. Each dollar donated is equivalent to one vote.
Emcees for this year’s sold-out event on March 30 at Knight Theater are WBTV's Molly Grantham and NFL star DeAngelo Williams, both of whom have lost close family members to breast cancer. They’ll be handing out the mirror ball trophy for the top fundraiser, the biggest crowd pleaser, and the highest-scoring dancer.
Among the 13 stars competing is Dee Schwab, a mother of four who is also a grandmother of four. She’ll be joined on stage by fellow competitors and philanthropists JoBrent Austin-Diehl, Nick Clavin, Amanda Hibberts, Anitha Leonard, Davis Ligon, Katherine Weeks Mulford, Joey Profeta, Heather Sendler, Mary Bryan Smith, Celia Thompson, Shane Wagner and Hayes Woollen.
Dee will perform with professional dancer Felipe Gonzales Edmiston. She jokes that she’s looking forward to finding out if her 5th grade ballet classes will finally pay off. But her true motivation is supporting the nonprofit’s inspiring mission.
In between her demanding dance practice sessions, Dee took time from her busy schedule to answer The O Report’s questions.
The O Report: Being a dancer at this fundraiser is a huge commitment. What motivated you to participate?
Dee: I love to dance! And dancing for such a worthy cause is an added plus.
The O Report: What has been your favorite part of the process?
Dee: Connecting to Charlotte’s community of dancers and dance teachers has been a great new thing for me. My weekly lessons at Midtown Ballroom were intimidating at first. But now they are relaxing, sometimes hilarious and always fun.
The O Report: What has been the most challenging?
Dee: Memorizing our agreed upon dance. It’s only two minutes, but has lots of intricate steps. Fingers crossed!
The O Report: Any details you can share about your costume, music and your amazing professional dance partner Felipe?
Dee: I could not have a better partner than Felipe. He also directs our production. He’s a spectacular dancer, a kind and patient teacher, and now a great new friend. Our beautiful costumes are custom-made by the very talented Daniel Gonzales, who happens to be Felipe’s brother. It’s a family affair!
The O Report: What are you most looking forward to in regards to the fundraiser and what you hope it accomplishes?
Dee: I’m looking forward to our performance Saturday night at the Knight Theatre. And I so appreciate the generosity of friends who have supported me and all the other community dancers. We’ll never know the Pink House patrons we’ve helped, but we’ll know we helped them.