Dancing with the Seymour Stars canceled for 2020

A popular dancing fundraiser that brings in money for two nonprofit organizations has been canceled for 2020.

In a letter to supporters sent out Thursday, the Dancing with the Seymour Stars committee announced after much thought and deliberation, the eighth annual event will not occur this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This was a difficult decision, as not only is this an extremely important fundraiser for our organizations, but we also love this event and pour our hearts into providing an enjoyable evening of entertainment and camaraderie with our community supporters,” according to the letter from Boys and Girls Club Executive Director Ryon Wheeler and Seymour Main Street Board President Brandon Hunsley.

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“Safety is our highest priority, and out of an abundance of caution and respect to our performers, guests and supporters, we don’t believe it is possible to deliver the same exceptional show while maintaining social distance and safety for all involved,” they wrote.

Last year’s event in September brought in a record $133,388.95 — split between the two organizations — and drew more than 800 attendees.

“Health and safety are very important; however, the many planning dominoes that go into play make it nearly impossible to make certain decisions, which plays into the scenario, as well,” Wheeler said. “Those health scenarios leave other planning decisions in the air, so it’s nearly impossible to move forward in some aspects.”

Even though this year’s fundraiser has been canceled, donations are being sought from those in a position to provide financial support.

A tax-deductible donation may be made by texting DWTSS to 243725 or visiting give.onecause.com/dwtss.

That help the Boys and Girls Club continue to provide a safe and collaborative environment for members to grow, learn and play and assist Seymour Main Street in its mission to promote, preserve and protect the historic downtown.

Wheeler said the funds received from Dancing with the Seymour Stars are used for the club’s general operations.

“That includes all of our programs focused on academic success, healthy lifestyles and good character and citizenship,” he said. “It also helps us to provide scholarships to kids who can’t afford to come. Recently, it allowed us to expand our hours to have teen-only programming each night and more family-focused events.”

He said the club’s staff and board are working tirelessly to make sure the fundraiser’s cancellation doesn’t adversely impact the kids and operations.

“We have worked to find new funding streams and increase individual donations,” Wheeler said. “One of the good things to come from the CARES Act is the ability to have an above the line deduction of $300 this year on your taxes. We are encouraging folks to take advantage of that if they are financially able.

“While we know there will be a budget shortfall from this event, we have already replaced some income and will continue to work to replace all of it,” he said. “Our kids are just too important not to.”

With many restrictions from COVID-19, the club is spending double the money to serve half the kids, Wheeler said.

The staff and board likely will know more about the impact later in the year as they continue to monitor the cash flow, but at this point, Wheeler said they have no plans to cut or reduce services any time soon.

“We have been working diligently to come up with other funding streams to ensure operations will not miss a beat,” he said. “Having the ability to provide a safe and caring environment for kids is way too important to cut services. Our board and staff continue to reach out to our donors and new supporters to continue to make sure our kids come out of this thriving.”

For Seymour Main Street, Hunsley said its portion from Dancing with the Seymour Stars supports the organization’s operating budget.

“These funds allow us to attract new and existing businesses downtown, provide and promote our events and administer our recently expanded business assistance programs to downtown business and building owners,” he said.

Like many other nonprofits, Seymour Main Street receives a majority of its income through fundraising, grants and earned income, he said.

“Unfortunately, all three of these items have been impacted by COVID-19,” Hunsley said. “The Dancing with the Stars income represents about 44% of our events budget, so the impacts of this reduction will be felt throughout the year.”

That’s why people are encouraged to donate if they can.

“Seymour Main Street is committed to meeting the goals set pre-COVID,” Hunsley said. “It’s important for the community to know that although some events have been canceled, we are still working hard to support downtown growth. The funding received will have a direct impact on the amount of financial support we can offer businesses and the ability to provide events and entertainment to the community.”

Wheeler and Hunsley hope Dancing with the Seymour Stars can return Sept. 25, 2021.

“We look forward to seeing you then,” they said in the letter.

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Since Dancing with the Seymour Stars is canceled for 2020, donations are being sought to support the Boys and Girls Club of Seymour and Seymour Main Street.

A tax-deductible donation may be made by texting DWTSS to 243725 or visiting give.onecause.com/dwtss.

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