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Lourdes' dancing fundraiser nets projected $240,000

BY CORIANNE EGANcegan@paducahsun.com

METROPOLIS, Ill. - Harrah's ballroom was transformed into dance central Saturday night for the Lourdes Relay for Life's eighth annual Dancing with Our Stars event.

Twenty different couples took to the floor to raise money for the American Cancer Society in front of hundreds of spectators. The dancers - some of the community's most notable members - have spent five months raising money to fight cancer, and Saturday's total fundraising is expected to top $240,000.

"It seems to have become one of the more anticipated events in the area," organizer Rita Bailey said. "People like coming, and it's for a great cause."

Saturday's numbers were already creeping higher than 2013's totals.

Dancing with Our Stars started in Madison Hall, raising a cool $24,000. Its inflated size and awe-inspiring community support have turned it into one of the area's largest fundraisers. The event has rocketed Lourdes' Relay for Life team to be the third-highest American Cancer Society fundraising team in the world.

After this year, the team has combined to bring in $1 million all time, Bailey said.

Dancers go through months of training for their two minutes on the hardwood. Most of the dancers are novices, and learn from scratch. Josh White, executive director of the Yeiser Art Center, performed a waltz. He and his partner have been practicing since November, and have held several fundraisers to raise money.

"The learning process has been kind of fun," White said. "It's not a complicated dance. It's slow and elegant, which is more my style."

Along with White, Griffin Bicking, Dr. Barbara Bowers, Matthew Church, Laura Emerson, Dale Hanson, Karen Falder, Luke Ross, Trudy Wyatt, Chad Lewis, Cindy Hutson, Carol Gault, Andrea Moore, Rachael King, Angie Sanders, Dean Owen, Cletus Murphy, Chuck Sexton, Matt Sullivan and Dedra Turney starred in the show.

The team also took time before the event to honor Bailey, who is stepping aside as organizer this year. Bailey has worked night and day on the event since its inception.

Pick up a copy of Monday's edition of The Paducah Sun for final fundraising totals and a list of winners.

Contact Corianne Egan, a Paducah Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8652 or follow @CoriEgan on Twitter.

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