Stars shine, dazzle

Risk paid off in the end for Dr. Nate Otte and Angie Mellencamp as they danced away with first place in Saturday night’s fifth annual Dancing with the Seymour Stars.

Although their fancy footwork and flip-filled routine received loud applause, whistles and calls from the sold-out crowd at Celebrations, it was their ability to raise the most money in votes that secured their win.

A total of nine couples competed in the event, which serves as a fundraiser for Seymour Main Street and the Boys & Girls Club of Seymour.

At the end of the night, master of ceremonies Curt Nichols announced a total of $101,316 had been raised by the dancers overall — a record for the event. Individual totals for how much each couple raised were not made public.

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It was Otte’s third time to compete and Mellencamp’s first appearance.

“I just want to say how much appreciation we feel for the support along the way and tonight,” Otte said after the show. “We know the votes came from a lot of different sponsors and individuals, and we want to make sure to say thank you.”

Mellencamp said participating in the event was a great way to meet new people in the community. She had never met Otte before being paired with him.

The routine they came up with included many flips and lifts that made it difficult and risky.

“I didn’t breathe until it was over,” Mellencamp said.

“High risk, high reward,” Otte added.

Mellencamp said she was shocked when Nichols announced she and Otte as the winners.

“I couldn’t believe it,” she said. “I still can’t.”

Placing second was the team of Dr. Paul Rennekamp and his wife, Angie. Also dancing with them were their two young children, Paulton and Anniston. Their routine highlighted the couple’s professions as a veterinarian and a schoolteacher and their favorite roles as parents.

“It was such a wonderful event, and lots of memories were made,” Angie Rennekamp said. “We appreciate the love and support. Second place never felt better.”

Third place went to Dr. Matt Pierce and Katrina Hardwick, who marked her fifth time competing. Their routine featured popular dance-pop songs from the ’90s through now, including New Kids on the Block, N’Sync, Britney Spears and Beyonce.

“I’m so excited. It’s the first time I’ve placed,” Hardwick said.

She plans on staying involved and dancing in the event as long as they keep asking her to, she said.

“For me, this is the best because I absolutely love to dance. I’m passionate about it and (Dancing with the Seymour Stars) helps the community. I mean, when you can raise $100,000 just by dancing, it’s a win-win.”

Other dancers were Dr. Elton Chambers and his wife, Montica, Shane Crouch and his wife, Andrea Hall Crouch, Rick Meyer and Beth VonDielingen, Michelle Schaefer and Jeff Nolting, Matt Nieman and Angie Tracey and Aaron Floyd and Sarah Arnold.

The dancers performed their routines twice Saturday, once at a matinee in the afternoon and then again at the popular evening show.

Hardwick also danced in a special intermission performance by the Yaasss Kweens, which included her friends, Karen Hass, Chandra Baird, Donna Pollert and Tammy Van Doren.

All of the money raised from voting, ticket sales and sponsorships of the event goes to help fund operations, programs, events and special projects for Seymour Main Street and the Boys & Girls Club of Seymour.

Becky Schepman, executive director of Seymour Main Street, thanked all those who support the organization’s work to plan, promote and preserve historic downtown Seymour.

This year has been a busy year, she said, with the addition of 10 new events, including sip and strolls.

A total of 30 new businesses have opened in the downtown in the last five years, and more than 20 have received financial assistance from Seymour Main Street to improve their buildings with new signs, awnings and facades, she said.

The organization currently is working to renovate two buildings downtown that were destroyed in a fire in January and hope to have new businesses there in the near future.

Other projects have included the installation of new benches and bike racks downtown with new wayfinding signs coming by the end of the year.

The Boys & Girls Club has been serving Seymour since 1947.

“Our mission is to inspire and empower all young people, especially those who need us most, to realize their full potential as productive, responsible and caring citizens,” said new Boys & Girls Club executive director Ryon Wheeler. “We’re not here just for poor kids. We’re not just here for single mothers.”

The club provides a safe place for kids to go after school, where they can receive help with their homework and have positive adult mentors in their lives.

Wheeler said Dancing with the Seymour Stars is a fun event that makes a big impact.

“What matters is the dollars,” he said. “It takes money to do what we do. Our members pay $25,000 overall of our budget in membership dues, but we never turn a child away for the inability to pay. Our total budget is over $400,000. Events like this help fill the gaps.”

Dancing with the Seymour Stars committee chairman Fred Hines said the idea for Dancing with the Seymour Stars was the result of needing to find a way to raise more money for the Boys & Girls Club.

“Things were starting to look a little bleak,” he said. “Our old fundraiser wasn’t doing what it used to do. The United Way was struggling a little bit at that time.”

It was suggested by Bruce Wynn, another committee member, who also is involved with Seymour Main Street, that the board look into Columbus’ Dancing with the Stars fundraiser as a model.

The rest, Hines said is history, and the event has now raised more than $440,000 in five years.

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Winners of the fifth annual Dancing with the Seymour Stars

First place – Dr. Nate Otte and Angie Mellencamp

Second place – Dr. Paul Rennekamp and Angie Rennekamp

Third place – Dr. Matt Pierce and Katrina Hardwick

Total amount of money raised to benefit Seymour Main Street and the Boys & Girls Club of Seymour – $101,316.