Last fall saw the launch of a new, exciting and unusual fundraiser here in Roanoke. It’s called Dancing with the Valley Stars.
It’s a lot like the hit TV show, but the “stars” are local, the event is once per year and the purpose is to raise money for the Salvation Army’s Turning Point shelter. Since 1986, the Salem Avenue institution has provided temporary room and board to women and children fleeing domestic violence in their homes.
Along with Roanoke Police Chief Chris Perkins, Hollins University President Nancy Gray, Bootie Chewning and some others, I was one of the so-called “stars” last year.
That event exceeded its organizers’ wildest expectations. The ballroom at The Patrick Henry overflowed with about 300 spectators. Counting sponsorships, it raised more than $25,000 for Turning Point.
A quite footloose Melinda Payne, Salem’s planning director, was crowned champ at the end.
They’re doing it again this year with a new lineup of stars at a larger venue. Payne will defend her title Nov. 10 at the Virginia Museum of Transportation.
I talked to three of this year’s “stars” Monday. Each has been paired up for lessons with a local dance instructor-volunteer.
One was Robert Marmerstein, associate chief operating officer at Lewis-Gale Medical Center in Salem. He moved he two years ago from northern Virginia.
Apart from shaking his hips at weddings, “I’ve never danced a single day in my life, so far,” Marmerstein told me. On November 10, he’ll be doing a rumba-tango combination with instructor Liz Becker before a crowd of hundreds.
How did he get involved? Lewis-Gale President Victor Giovanetti volunteered him for this gig. (Thanks, boss!)
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