Dancing with the La Crosse Stars raises record $45,000 for Red Cross

2009-11-29T00:15:00Z Dancing with the La Crosse Stars raises record $45,000 for Red CrossBy KJ LANG klang@lacrossetribune.com La Crosse Tribune
November 29, 2009 12:15 am  • 

This month Mayor Matt Harter was practicing disco footwork every night while brushing his teeth and in the elevator at work, he said.

His efforts paid off as he shimmied and shook Saturday night, bumping hips with dancing partner Kayla Wegner of Misty's Dance Unlimited in the fourth annual "Dancing with the La Crosse Stars," based on the ABC show "Dancing with the Stars."

"At first he was very stiff and business like, but then he let loose and learned to shimmy," Wegner said prior to the big performance.

Harter did cartwheels, lifted and twisted Wegner in front of a crowd of more than 800 people at Central High School's auditorium.

The two were up against nine other couples and were judged on points such as dance difficulty, flow, entertainment and how much money they raised.

The event set a record, raising more than $45,000 for the Scenic Bluffs Chapter of the American Red Cross, said Cheryl Hancock, executive director of the chapter. Last year the event raised $27,000.

Highlights of the night included some very daring dance moves by Amy DuPont, anchor of WXOW-TV, landing her a perfect 30 score from the judges - the first perfect score in the event's history, said Hancock.

Dennis Vogel, chief executive officer of Citizens State Bank and partner and Miss La Crosse/Oktoberfest Raeanna Johnson stole the show, concluding their Hip-hop funk number with real dollar bills falling from the stage ceiling.

Stephen Woessner, author and instructor at the Small Business Development Center at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, stepped on stage in a cloud of smoke with a cape around his neck to do a bull-fighting dance called a Paso Doble.

Instructor Katie O'Reilly said she was a little nervous when on the second day of practice Woessner told her he had no rhythm.

"But, he persevered and with each rehearsal he got better," she said.

Harter also said he struggled with rhythm at first. His dancing experience dates back to Norwegian dance lessons from age 6 to 9 with the Sons of Norway.

Though Harter didn't place in the competition, the judges sung his praises Saturday night.

Judge Jerry Kember Superintendent of the La Crosse School District said Harter was "on fire." Then he jokingly added, "But, whose gonna put it out?" alluding to recent talk about a partial volunteer fire department.

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