Thursday, June 5, 2014
The sixth annual Lowcountry Dancing with the Stars Oxygen Ball set a record with more than $265,000 raised towards the mission of the American Lung Association.
After a fierce and close competition, Catherine Stuhr and her professional partner Travis Willert took home the coveted championship disco-ball trophy.
Stuhr said that she was originally asked to participate by the committee that plans the event. After learning about it and the cause, and having witnessed two extended-family members battle lung cancer, she felt it was a cause to which everyone could relate. “The statistics are that asthma is the No. 1 reason kids don't make it to school in our state. I was able to think about it from a child welfare standpoint and how important it is to improve quality of life for children who suffer from asthma,” she explained. It was also a great fit for her because of the very personal challenge she would be taking on.
Stuhr explained that local celebrities are paired with professional dancers from the Fred Astaire Dance Studios for the dance competition at the Charleston Marriott. Couples are all on the same timetable in terms of preparation and are given eight free dance lessons. “Almost everyone ends up doing more dance lessons because you want to get to a different level than just basic preparation,” she said.
“Fred Astaire Dance Studios has such talented professionals and they know how to make you feel comfortable and help build your confidence through the process so that you know when you get up in front of 400-plus people, you can perform fairly well,” Stuhr added.
In addition to learning the dance moves, Stuhr and fellow dancers had a fundraising component. “A big part of your energy goes into that as well. We all did our best to get people to support us. I was very fortunate to have resources with my coworkers and relied heavily on them to get letters out and the word out to let people now about the event and about the programs the Lung Association has,” said Stuhr.
The five featured celebrity dancers included: Elizabeth Colbert-Busch, director of Business Development at the Clemson University Restoration Institute, Rob Concannon, president of the South Carolina Stingrays, Shelley Hochman, partner at the Facial Surgery Center, Michael Scarafile, president of Carolina One Real Estate Services, and Catherine Stuhr, vice president of J. Henry Stuhr, Inc.
The Oxygen Ball is the American Lung Association of South Carolina's largest fundraiser and supports its mission of saving lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease. The Lung Association is committed to the prevention and cure of lung disease in all forms. This organization strives to educate individuals on the importance of living a smoke-free life as well as improving the air we breathe.
“One of the best things about going through the entire process was meeting new people and building relationships with the group of professionals at Fred Astaire as well as the American Lung Association,” said Stuhr. “There is a lot of hard work and dedication on all of their parts that goes into making this event successful and I certainly have lot of respect for the work of the Lung Association as well as their volunteers of the actual Oxygen Ball.”
Stuhr plans to continue her dance lessons with partner Travis Willert.
“I couldn't have asked for a better teacher. I was extremely fortunate to be paired with him,” she said.
The beginning of the evening featured a silent auction before guests enjoyed a gourmet dinner followed by a live auction. In addition to the dance competition, alumni dancers Laura Zucker, Gretchen Penney and Jennifer Snowden performed.
Vibra Hospital of Charleston, the InterTech Group Foundation, the Facial Surgery Center of Charleston and Josh Levkoff Private Jeweler partnered with the Lung Association as top sponsors to put on the event.
For more information about the American Lung Association, contact 843-556-8451 or visit www.lungsc.org.