.. and the winners are (drumroll please)...
Jane and Peter Cladis!
This dynamic duo performed the Waltz (see video), having no professional training—except for lessons at the Fred Astaire Studio in Chicago prior to their wedding 30 years ago.
As you read on, however, you will learn what makes this evening special with friends and family as they celebrate not only a win here, but in the dance of life, as well.
Peggy Lefever attended the event for the first time, after living across the street (literally) for several years. Her daughter is a teacher and accepted the invitation to support the Geneva Academic Foundation.
"This was a great night—everything from the food, entertainment and the cause. I will definitely do it again!" she said. " I give them (the dancers) credit. It takes a lot of guts to get out there and do this. It's amazing!"
Of course the dancers who have the guts to get out there and dance in front of all these people have exhibited some bravery in their personal lives, as well.
Such is the case with Nancy and Ralph Dantino who performed the Swing. After enduring radiation and chemotherapy for cancer treatment, Ralph was fatigued. The couple said they thought participating in Dancing with the Geneva Stars would help Ralph regain his energy and renew him. His participation has energized the entire family. Ralph and Nancy thought it was important to give something back to the community by dancing.
We are glad you did, Dantinos, as you certainly created a lot of energy for all in attendance!
The winning couple has been dancing on a similar floor, facing a battle with cancer, as well. In the introduction, emcee Mayor Kevin Burns says not many people are fully aware of Jane’s battle with breast cancer through multiple surgeries, procedures and other physically exhaustive treatments.
Prior to having them step out on to the dance floor, to a somewhat subdued audience, Burns delivered a special message from her husband, Peter, and said “to see Jane standing before me tonight, with intimate knowledge of her private struggle, is a testament to her character and inner and outer beauty that cancer is incapable of destroying. Please join us in a celebration of life tonight as this dance fills our hearts with hope, our spirits with joy, and our lives with thanksgiving for God’s amazing grace.”
As you can see, this special group of people performing are winners both on and off the dance floor.
Adam and Amanda Law danced the ChaCha like they were born to! With Adam serving in his role as principal, Amanda as an oncology nurse practitioner and raising two young daughters, they are quite busy, yet they exhibit an energetic and compatible spirit. Adam Law shares his secret after 12 years of marriage that just keeps getting better.
"Date night," he said. "We get together for 'couple time' at least once a week."
Well, it shows—and so does their dancing skills.
As the evening was coming to a close and 16,670 votes were in and attendees packed the dance floor, everyone I spoke with shares this sentiment. Persinger said it best:
"The night was overwhelming. It was over-the-top wonderful."
In years past, Persinger tells us, it's always been a great time from start to finish, particularly because audience members interact with the performers.
"I can't remember a fundraiser event where the audience is having so much fun, hooting and hollering with the arms raised in the air," she said.
She's right, where else can you have this much fun raising money for a good cause, where well-dressed, dignified members of society are letting their hair down and really becoming part of the show and, in addition to getting caught up in all the exciting competition, also deciding the outcome?
Kudos to all, especially to Linda Cunningham of State Street Dance Studio, for a wonderfully orchestrated evening. Everyone had a place to sit, a good meal, great entertainment and, most importantly, a reason to smile!
See the full image gallery to see for yourself. This is an evening that will not be soon forgotten!