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May 8, 2007 > Dancing with the Local Stars

Dancing with the Local Stars

By Diana Marroquin

Quick, quick, slow; quick, quick, slow - the rhythm of dance. Slide, slide, step - pure physical expressions of movement. Tango, Waltz, Swing, and Salsa! These exciting, rhythmic dances will be coming to the Saddlerack, on Tuesday, May 15 when four of our local area "stars" join with expert partners for a fun night of competition and fundraising in Dancing with the Local Stars.

Local Stars, a spin on the popular reality television show, Dancing with the Stars, brings many of the competitive features of the TV show, but with a decidedly local flare. These contestant dancers are the lifeblood behind operations of area businesses and organizations.

KK Kaneshiro, from the Fremont Chamber of Commerce, Rick Hood with Niles Rotary and Coldwell Banker, Bo Magnussen at Manussen Lexus, and Maria Sicalbo from KFAX Radio will be putting their feet to the test when they compete against one another in the Tri-City Health Center's fundraising event. They'll sashay across the floor to the sounds of big-band brass, Latin tempo, and smooth violins in a nightclub ambiance, filled with lights, people and excitement.

The four amateur dancers are paired with local professional dancers from Arthur Murray Ballroom Dance Studios and the Fred Astaire Dance Studio. And like the popular television show, none of the local stars has any previous experience in ballroom dancing. For the past two months, the four have been practicing their newly learned dance steps with the same tenacity they bring to their business operations.

Hood, the oldest of the four at 63 years-young, said "When I was first asked to do this, I thought, 'Ah, it's two months away. I've danced before - and it's for a good cause. I'll do it', but once we started practicing, boy, I thought I'd made a serious mistake. I had no idea these dances were going to be so fast. They're all fast - they're still fast. So it's definitely been a challenge. But I've hung in there. And the whole thing's been such a great learning experience!"

Although his voice seems mellow, there's an underlying tone to Hood's statements that communicates a heartfelt sense of commitment to community - and especially its women. That tone is audible especially when he states that money raised from this event will benefit the community at large because it benefits women's health, providing resources for the Health Center.

According to Hood, when you work to improve the life, health, and education of a woman, you improve the life of the community. Women, he says, are the rock of any community.

Regina Hayes, director of sales and marketing at the Tri-City Health Center and the organizer behind the competition, hit on the idea of doing a spin-off from Dancing with the Stars in a search to promote the Center in an unusual way.

"We had this thought that if we did a Dancing with the Stars theme we could add a local flare to the concept by using local folks, instead. So we went looking for local community members that would volunteer their time to doing this - because it is a big commitment in time, energy, and lessons - and we got lucky" said Hayes.

Her short hair and clear eyes lend a vivacious sparkle to Hayes' statements, and it's easy to see how folks have rallied behind her energy and Heath Center efforts to bring the dance event to life. "The community has really come out in support of this project, and we're really appreciative of everyone who's helped, especially the dancers!"

The first Dancing with the Local Stars, held last year, was surprisingly successful. Hayes is hopeful that this year's competition will do even better by doubling the number of attendees. Besides the dancers, the event has attracted a California State Senator, an Alameda County Supervisor, the Saddlerack, a group of sponsors, and numerous volunteers. This year's three-judge panel features last year's dance competition winner, Daren Young, California State Senator Ellen Corbett, and Alameda County Supervisor Scott Haggerty.

Andy Buchanan, general manager and part-owner of the Saddlerack, said, "How could you not participate in something like this? The Center needed a good venue to host the event, and we said 'Yes.' Our thought is always, 'The community helps us make our living, so we like to help the community.' Fremont was so good to us, in letting us come here when we lost our place in San Jose, that we do all we can to help in any way."

Buchanan brings passion to his words when he talks about the upcoming event; that same enthusiasm is iterated by virtually everyone involved in making this year's event happen. Sicalbo, who originally was only going to recommend dancers to Hayes, found herself nodding affirmatively when Hayes asked if she wanted to dance.

"My thought was 'Why not? It's all about the community,'" said Sicalbo, whose voice ripples with girlish youthfulness when speaking. "Now I'm catching myself practicing my dance steps behind my desk here at work, at home, in line at the store. If they caught me they'd probably laugh," she said, giggling at herself. "But I've enjoyed myself so much. I'm re-inventing myself with these lessons. And they are something I'll always have with me, even after the competition's done."

Hayes hopes that this year's event brings in enough funds toward the Center's purchase of cervical cancer medical screening equipment and care and prevention services. Last year's competition helped fund the Center's ongoing HIV/AIDS programs.

Tri-City Health Center has long been a fixture in the Tri-City area by providing health care for the community - particularly members without the usual heath care options. For many in the immigrant community, Tri-City Health Center has been their first introduction to the area, and many continue patronizing the Center for health care, even after they no longer need to do so.

If you swing by the Health Center to purchase a dance ticket, don't be too surprised, if instead of "Cough, breathe deep," "Say 'Ah,'" you hear the unmistakable sounds of "...'Quick, Quick, Slow... Quick, Quick, Slow... Slide, Slide, Step..."

Dancing with the Local Stars takes place Tuesday, May 15, 2007, from 6 p.m. - 9 p.m. at the Saddlerack. Dress is business casual. Tickets are $35 in advance, $40 at the door. To purchase or reserve tickets, including on the day of the event, call 510-252-5835. Send checks to Tri-City Health Center, 39465 Paseo Padre Parkway, Suite 2100, Fremont, CA 94538. Tickets may also be purchased online at www.tricityhealth.org

The Saddle rack is located at 42011 Boscell Road, Fremont, off Auto Mall Parkway.




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