Dancing with the Seymour Stars raises more than $112,000

Darren Richey and Katrina Hardwick had more on their minds than the two nonprofit organizations they were helping.

Saturday was Hardwick’s eighth time participating in Dancing with the Seymour Stars, which means she has been part of a dancing couple each year of the fundraiser, while Richey was a newcomer. They both wanted to win.

They also were thinking of a late parent. Hardwick lost her mother, Carolyn Ketcham, on Oct. 26, 2019, after battling a rare liver cancer. Richey lost his father, John Richey, on Oct. 4, 2021.

On the shirts they wore for the second half of their performances Saturday, the initials “C.K.” and “J.R.” were on the sleeves.

When emcee Jim Plump announced the top three fundraising couples at the end of Saturday night’s show, Richey and Hardwick were the winners.

“My mom was here at the very last Dancing with the Stars pre-COVID (2019) and then I lost her a month after, so this is my first time here at this without my mom,” Hardwick said. “Then Darren’s dad was supposed to be here, and we lost him right before the week of what would have been the first event.”

The fundraiser was canceled in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and then it was supposed to be held in October 2021 but was postponed again due to the pandemic.

Each losing a parent, they wanted to honor them in some way Saturday.

“They had the best seat in the house. They were up there watching over us,” Richey said.

“We talked about them watching together and just pulling it through for us,” Hardwick said. “It was even more special for us, I think, because it just made us work even harder because it was like a way to just honor their memory. It also meant more because of that than anything, I think.”

Richey said he knew how much work Hardwick had put in each year for Dancing with the Seymour Stars, so he told her he would do whatever he could to win.

Their fundraising efforts paid off big time and contributed to the more than $112,000 raised by the eight couples to benefit the Boys and Girls Club of Seymour and Seymour Main Street.

Earlier this month, they had a successful barbecue fundraiser through 2 Bros Q, which is run by Richey and his brother, Mike.

“That helped a lot,” Richey said. “I didn’t know how it was going to go because we planned on doing a lunch service and a dinner service, and they came out and killed it. We sold out before we could even have a dinner service. It was amazing.”

They also raffled off baskets.

“A lot of people gave to the raffle, but it’s not just that they gave. A lot of people just gave big amounts,” Hardwick said. “We tried to get a lot of things in those baskets that would be worth it. They were between $300 and $500 each, so we thought, ‘If we’re asking you to spend anywhere from $50 to $100, we want to make sure you’re going to get back a lot on your return if you win.’”

Going into Saturday afternoon’s matinee performance and the evening’s sold-out show, Richey and Hardwick had raised $12,000. Hardwick said that’s the most she has ever raised through Dancing with the Seymour Stars.

When the results were announced, Brian Hamp and Jana Gray placed third, and Mitch Murphy and Bethany Rust were runners-up.

Hamp and Gray performed an “Annie” number, Murphy and Rust had a “Grease”-themed routine and Richey and Hardwick started by dancing to Billy Joel’s “Uptown Girl” and ended with Bruno Mars’ “Uptown Funk.“

Hardwick, who owns Body Rock Dance, Health and Fitness Studio in Seymour, choreographed the routine.

“Whenever I have a partner, I try to think about what their thing is, their niche in the community or whatever,” she said. “What popped in my head was (Richey) with Jim’s Body Shop. The old ‘Uptown Girl’ video was Billy Joel and his crew in the body shop dancing, and I guess it’s one of those random things I knew and I thought, ‘That is super cute,’ and we could incorporate his Jim’s Body Shop in it.”

They also wanted to bring a little bit of funkiness to the end, she said.

“You can’t go wrong. You’ve got ‘Uptown Girl,’ ‘Uptown Funk.’ We connected the uptown part and made it all work together,” she said.

Richey liked the song choices.

“I loved them both, but trust me, I was a little worried. I even told her, I was like, ‘I don’t know how I’m going to do this. I don’t know how you’re going to teach this old man that many steps,’” he said, smiling. “She’s an awesome coach. She put in her time, and I just went with it.”

They began working on the routine at the end of last summer, but once the show got postponed and then the holidays arrived, that limited the amount of time they were able to rehearse.

“I wasn’t really nervous. I was just in my head. I kept telling myself, ‘You’re going to mess up,’” Richey said of being onstage. “But like I said, it’s all about the coaching. She walked me through it.”

Considering all of the work they put in and being able to pay tribute to their parents, Richey and Hardwick were excited about the win.

“I’ll cherish it forever. It hasn’t quite sunk in yet, but it means the world. Just the vibe that we got from the audience and people in general, it was just amazing,” Richey said.

“Win or lose, you know that you’re doing something amazing for the community, and the people who are giving that money, they really appreciate it so much, and we know that and we’re so glad, especially coming off of COVID where fundraising efforts have been really tough,” Hardwick said.

“Hearing the total at the end blew my mind, but win or lose, it would have been great. We just worked so hard. We just wanted to honor our parents,” she said. “We really left no stoned unturned as far as we’re concerned. I don’t know that we could have done any more than we did. Mentally, physically, emotionally, we just gave it everything we had.”

Hardwick won in her eighth time participating in Dancing with the Seymour Stars, and she won for the fifth time competing in the Columbus version in January 2020.

So will she keep doing this fundraiser?

“I told them if I didn’t win this year, they were going to have to give me the lifetime achievement award or something because something’s got to give,” she said, smiling. “When you love your community like we do, like I do, and then couple that with getting to do what I love, which is dancing and performing and creating that, there’s no question that I would do it every year. I love it.”

What about Richey? Is he up for it again?

“If Katrina asked me again, I would probably have a hard time telling her no. I just hope she can find some younger guys to do it,” he said, laughing.