Dancing with the Aiken Stars is getting ready to kick up its heels for the final time. The fourth edition of the charity event and friendly competition will be the last.
“This is it, and we're pulling out all the stops,” said Betty Ryberg, chair and co-founder of Dancing with the Aiken Stars, on Sunday night during a kickoff party for this year's renewal at Newberry Hall.
The fundraiser's finale is scheduled for Nov. 21 at USC Aiken's Convocation Center on Robert M. Bell Parkway. Doors will open at 6 p.m., and the program will start at 7 p.m.
“We've got a special opening act this year, and we don't think we would ever be able to top it,” Ryberg said. “I love the idea – and so does everyone else – of leaving on a high.”
Proceeds from this year's Dancing with the Aiken Stars will benefit the Child Advocacy Center of Aiken County and the Community Medical Clinic of Aiken County.
Gayle Lofgren, executive director of the Child Advocacy Center, said tables for Dancing with the Aiken Stars have sold out. However, tickets for arena seating are going on sale today for $30 apiece at the Convocation Center. They also can be purchased on the Convocation Center's website (www.uscatix.com), but an additional fee may be charged for processing. In addition, tickets will be available the night of the event at the Convocation Center.
The holder of each $30 ticket will be able to cast one vote during Dancing with the Aiken Stars and will have access to a cash bar and concessions.
Grant Wiseman, rector of St. Thaddeus Episcopal Church, will be among this year's performers. He will be dancing with attorney Mary O. Guynn.
“My wife and I purposely didn't dance at our wedding because we didn't want to embarrass ourselves,” Wiseman said.
However, he did complete some dancing lessons before a relative's wedding, and he also took tap dancing lessons when he was in the fifth grade.
“I'm OK,” Wiseman said. “I'm not going to embarrass myself, at least not too much.”
Wiseman reported that he and Guynn had practiced together four times so far.
“We've just been trying to figure out how good we are, and now we're going to start going more often,” he said. “I've already learned a couple of lifts and some spins.”
Will Williams, director of the Economic Development Partnership for Aiken and Edgefield counties, will be dancing with Kim Williams, an accountant and an instructor at Gold's Gym.
“I've never been accused of being a professional dancer, but I can dance,” Will Williams said. “We'll make a very strong showing.”
He and his partner are not related.
In addition to pairs, groups will be performing during Dancing with the Aiken Stars. Prizes will be awarded to the pair and the group that receive the most votes. The judges – Marie Durrett, Sallye Rich, Robert Shellhouse and Jesse Colin Young – will award a prize to their favorite among all the pairs and all the groups, and there also will be a people's choice award.
Voting will begin online on Oct. 15 at www.aikendancers.info and also will take place at the event. Each vote will cost $10.
In addition, votes and checks can be sent to DWTAS CAC/CMC, P.O. Box 1763, Aiken, S.C. 29802. Mail-in votes must be received by Nov. 18.
The event raised more than $200,000 during its first three years combined.
Dede Biles is a general assignment reporter for the Aiken Standard and has been with the newspaper since January 2013.