United Way gets leg up for it next fund-raiser

First Posted: 7/30/2011

LUMBERTON — If you ever wondered what it’d be like to see Sen. Michael Walters bust a move, here’s your chance.

Walters will be among 40 local personalities participating in Dancing with the Robeson County Stars, a new United Way fund-raising campaign fashioned after the popular television show.

“I think a lot of people have watched ‘Dancing with the Stars’ on television,” said Sandra Oliver, the executive director of the United Way of Robeson County. “It’s clean entertainment that appeals to a lot of people. We chose it as a fundraiser because it’s been done in other places. When you are raising money it’s important for people to have fun and enjoy themselves while also raising money.”

The event will be held on March 24 at the Southeastern Agricultural Center. Money raised through ticket sales and a $10 per vote donation will be used to bring the Dolly Parton Imagination Library to the county.

“This is totally in addition to our fall campaign,” Oliver said. “This is a new program we want to implement. We don’t want anyone to not give during our fall campaign because it supports the Boys and Girls Club, the American Red Cross, the Hospice House … the programs we need to keep funding.”

The Dolly Parton Imagination Library, which was established in 1996 by country singer Dolly Parton, provides a free book monthly to children 5 and under. It will cost about $400,000 over a five-year period.

“We need to be committed for three years — that’s how long takes to tell if making a difference,” Oliver said. “We don’t want to spend money and do anything that we don’t know is beneficial and is making a difference.”

Along with Walters, Joann Anderson, the CEO of Southeastern Regional Medical Center, and Deb Dickerson from Coastal Speech plan to get their groove on for the cause. The United Way is currently contacting other potential participants.

Those who participate will receive instruction from local dance instructors. They will have from September to March to learn their dance, which will vary from couple to couple.

“The winner of the contest is who raises the most money,” Oliver said. “It really doesn’t have anything to do with dancing. It’s just people who are willing to have a little bit of fun and challenge people they know and family or friends to donate money.”

Walters, who says he has two left feet, isn’t worried about the performance.

“I think it’s not about your ability or your skill level, it’s about the cause,” Walters said. “It’s about doing something that will help our young folks. Are folks gonna laugh? Absolutely, but that’s OK. It’s about having fun and raising money for a good cause.”

The winner will be introduced at the end of the two-hour show as votes can be cast right up until the final dance step.

“This is about raising money to put books in our children’s hands and helping out with the education of our children,” Oliver said. “Although it’s going to be fun and exciting and something totally different for Robeson County, it’s all about helping with the education of our children.”

And does Walters plan to win?

“Absolutely,” he said. “ … I think with the coaching and the instruction, we are going to work very hard to represent United Way well.”

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