More than 500 guests gathered at Lakeland College on May 17 for a spectacular evening of dancing, multi-course gourmet food, fellowship and philanthropic fundraising.
The seventh annual Movers & Shakers Gala was the final time this popular community event offered an evening of dancing. Beginning next year, the Gala will feature a lineup of various talent acts.
Saturday's event, which benefits Lakeland College, the Sheboygan Symphony Orchestra and numerous local charities, showcased the dancing skills of nine community leaders and their professional partners.
Tracy Wusterbarth, a human resources specialist at ACUITY, won the 2014 Movers & Shakers Gala championship, which goes to the dancer with a combination of the best judges' scores and the most purchased votes. Wusterbarth, the last dancer of the night and a former Miss Wisconsin, danced the jive and showcased her strong tap dancing skills. Votes purchased for Wusterbarth, who was sponsored by ACUITY, also benefited the Sharon S. Richardson Community Hospice.
Winning the "Judges' Choice" award was Julie Steinert, who danced a dazzling Cha-Cha hip-hop routine. Votes for Steinert, a nonprofit organization professional currently working as an office administrator at her husband's dental practice, also benefited Meals on Wheels of Sheboygan County. She was sponsored by Peter J. Steinert DDS SC and Bank First National.
Lakeland's Todd Wehr Center was transformed into a majestic ballroom, which included an elegant dance floor framed by wall-to-wall carpeting plus professional lighting and two large video screens.
In its previous six years, Movers & Shakers raised more than $2.5 million, including a four-year total of $263,500, for more than 30 nonprofit organizations.
Major sponsors of this year's Gala were the Frank G. and Frieda K. Brotz Family Foundation, Festival Foods and Studio Gear Technology. Additional event sponsors included Blue Moon Studios, Huber Creatives, Salon Sase, Zimmermann Printing and Canopies Events with Distinction.
This year's celebrity dancers, in addition to Wusterbarth and Steinert, were:
- Jason Bemis, of Bemis Manufacturing, danced the Viennese Waltz. Votes for Bemis benefited the Boys & Girls Clubs of Sheboygan County. Bemis was sponsored by Bemis Manufacturing Co.
- Rodney Ellison, a Lakeland graduate who works as a physical trainer at the Sports Core, danced the Mambo. Votes for Ellison benefited the Sheboygan County Cancer Care Fund. Ellison was sponsored by Plastics Engineering Company.
- Eric Kriete, a Lakeland graduate who owns The Silver Fern Pub in Sheboygan, danced a 70s "disco themed" Swing medley. Votes for Kriete benefited The Salvation Army-Sheboygan. Kriete, who wore an all-white suit reminiscent of John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever, was sponsored by The Silver Fern.
- Ashok Rai, the president and chief executive officer of Prevea Health in Green Bay, danced a Bollywood-style Tango. Votes for Rai, whose performance was preceded by a videotaped good luck message from Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, benefited the Sheboygan County Cancer Care Fund. Rai was sponsored by Prevea Health.
- Tammy Schaefer, whose husband, Larry, founded the popular Legend Larry's chicken wings franchise, opened the show and danced the Viennese Waltz. Votes for Schaefer benefited Bookworm Gardens and Rainbow Kids. Schaefer was sponsored by Legend Larry's.
- Johanna Schmidt, a student at the University of Wisconsin-Sheboygan, danced the West Coast Swing. Votes for Schmidt benefited Rotaract. She was sponsored by Sheboygan County Rotary Clubs and Sartori Cheese.
- Nichola Stayer-Suprick, an active volunteer in the community, danced the Cha-Cha Two-step. Votes for Stayer-Suprick benefited Safe Harbor. Stayer-Suprick was sponsored by Johnsonville Sausage.