United Way fundraiser gets local stars out on the dance floor

Bryant “Drew” Andrews, artistic wellness director at the Center for Creative Education, teaches Maureen Keegan and Kevin Quilty the salsa. (Photo: Phyllis McCabe)

Bryant “Drew” Andrews, artistic wellness director at the Center for Creative Education, teaches Maureen Keegan and Kevin Quilty the salsa. (Photo: Phyllis McCabe)

It’s a pretty good deal, really. Spend an evening at the deluxe Diamond Mills hotel up in Saugerties, pitch in for a worthy cause and watch local celebrities — some of whom you probably know in real life — show off their dance moves.

It’s called “Dancing With the Stars: Ulster Style” and is slated for next Friday, April 24 at Diamond Mills Hotel & Tavern, 25 Partition St. in Saugerties. According to United Way of Ulster County President Stacey Rein, the idea to adapt the hit TV show for a fundraiser had been kicking around in her head and others’ for a few years, but gained speed after a meeting with Kingston Center for Creative Education’s Ev Mann and Bryant “Drew” Andrews. “Maybe it’s time to move forward with it,” said Rein, who has a background in musical theater.


Rein said she used her extensive networking — “My job is to know a lot of people,” she said — to draw up the list of names for both dancers and judges. “It really just came out of brainstorming. … I didn’t have to twist too many arms. Maybe one or two, but not too badly.”

Most of the dancers, Rein said, didn’t have much in the way of experience with ballroom dancing. “It’s really kind of sweet. Most of them said, ‘It’s something I’ve always wanted to do, but never had a chance.’”

Rein hopes this will become something of a new local tradition. “We’ve already got four or five couples for next year. … We’ve never had so much energy or enthusiasm around a fundraiser,” said Rein.

Rein said ticket sales — $50 in advance; $60 at the door, with hors d’oeuvres, a cash bar and a DJ for intermission dancing — have been good so far, with close to 200 sold as of this week. The goal, she said, is 300.

The dancers will include: HITS maestro and Diamond Mills co-owner Tom Struzzieri; District Attorney Holley Carnright; MAC Fitness’ Lyle Schuler; Moe Keegan; Kevin Quilty; Timely Signs’ Paul and Jen Beichert; local KFC owner Darlene Pfeiffer; Paul DeLisio; Terry and JoAnne Parisian of the Hudson Valley Mall; Coleman Catholic’s theater genius Lise Hopson; Alex and Denise Stier of Home Plate Deli; DianaLou Wolf; and Gwen McCann of the Children’s Home.

Celebrity dance instructors are: Drew Andrews; Chester Freeman; Maia Martinez; David Salvatierra; Lisa Brown; Lourdes Cruz; Kathy Curry Gardiniere; Sherrill Silver; Barry Koffler; Steve and Carol Pressman; and Ron Fields.

Celebrity judges will be: Normann Temps’ Tony Marmo; County Comptroller Elliott Auerbach; County Clerk Nina Postupack; Rondout Savings Bank COO Cheryl Bowers; and Got2Lindy.com’s Linda Freeman.

All of the donations, Rein said, will stay in Ulster and every dollar raised next Friday will go to programs and none to administrative costs. Noting United Way had to cut across-the-board support for the more than 40 organizations it helps last year by 12 percent, Rein said, “We never again want to have to reduce funding.”

For more information, call (845) 331-4199 or visit ulsterunitedway.org.

“I think this is going to be a really fun and funny event,” said Rein. “One where you really can chuckle and enjoy yourself.”