Alumni dancers dust off shoes to compete again

Advocate staff photo by Darlene Denstorff -- Dancing in this year's Dancing for a Cause fundraiser are, first row from left, Marian Walsworth, Dawn Zitman, Gwen Price and Allison Hudson; and second row, Russell Graham, Matt Pryor, Ryan Chenevert, Mark Dearman and Cody Melancon.
Advocate staff photo by Darlene Denstorff -- Dancing in this year's Dancing for a Cause fundraiser are, first row from left, Marian Walsworth, Dawn Zitman, Gwen Price and Allison Hudson; and second row, Russell Graham, Matt Pryor, Ryan Chenevert, Mark Dearman and Cody Melancon.

Dancing for a Cause alumni Matt Pryor was tight-lipped about whether or not the powder-blue suit he wore the first time he competed in the Dancing for A Cause fundraiser would return later this summer when he competes again.

Pryor, Allison Hudson, Mark Dearman and 2011 champion Russell Graham announced last week that they are pulling out their dance shoes for return performances in the fifth annual Dancing for a Cause, a fundraiser for The Arc - Community Opportunities of East Ascension set for 7 p.m. July 13 at the Lamar-Dixon Expo Center.

The announcement came during a May 1 news conference and party at the Gonzales Public Safety Center.

Event organizer Sharon Morris said the four alumni dancers would take the stage as “celebrity select” all-star dancers, in addition to others who would be dancing for the first time.

After introducing the dancing lineup, Morris announced her resignation.

On May 2, event committee member Anita Cann released a statement assuring the continuation of the popular fundraiser.

“The Arc of East Ascension has an awesome group of community leaders, dancers, and staff who will continue working toward making this event a success,” Cann said.

The event will be chaired by Brad Walker, Cann and Dearman.

The alumni dancers will compete against Louisiana State Fire Marshal Butch Browning; Dr. Dawn Zitman; Lt. Cody Melancon, Ascension Parish Sheriff’s Office; Ryan Chenevert, lawyer; Rep. Clay Schexnaydre, District 81; Matt LeBlanc, LeBlanc Supermarkets; Cynthia Buggage, Southeast Louisiana Visions; Gwen Price, Ascension Parish School Board; and Marian Walsworth, manager of Mary Bird Perkins Ascension.

Dennis Stevens, COEA business operations manager, said the money from the event will be used to build a new 1,500- to 1,800-square-foot classroom and work center at the COEA’s Purpera Road respite center.

COEA is a nonprofit organization that enhances the quality of life for people with disabilities and their families through services such as job training programs, independent living, respite and adult day care, Executive Director Norma Dukes said.

Cann said event and table sponsorship are available.

For tickets and other information, call the Arc at (225) 621-2000.