Tifton Gazette

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May 27, 2014

Dancing Stars raises more than $131,000 for Alzheimer’s Association

TIFTON — Tifton’s Ray Cross and his partner, Angie Stoecker, won the People’s Choice mirror ball trophies for their fundraising total of $24,520 in the Alzheimer’s Association’s second annual Dancing Stars of South Georgia. People coping with Alzheimer’s disease and related disorders are the real winners with more than $131,000 raised during the event going toward the association for research for a cure and programs to help families.

“What a great night!” Cross said. “Dan Phillips and the Alzheimer’s Association staff and volunteers did a phenomenal job putting together this event.”

Cross and Stoecker performed a freestyle dance that wowed the judges. A Tifton resident for 22 years, Cross has served on the boards of the American Red Cross, the Tifton Arts Council, the Tifton Museum of Arts and Heritage and the Downtown Development Authority. He is a founding member of Veritas Laboratories, a clinical laboratory located in Tifton and is the former CEO of Affinity Health Group. He is married to Judge Melanie Cross.

Winning the Judges’ Choice mirror ball trophies and the second highest fundraiser was Dr. Haley Hydrick Clark, a Leesburg veterinarian, with her professional partner, Ashley Helton, co-owner of A Time To... Dance and Fitness Studio in Albany. Clark, the owner of Leesburg Animal Hospital, raised $22,709. The pair danced the mambo, with Clark in a flapper outfit.

The event is a key fundraiser for the Alzheimer's Association, Georgia Chapter, and is one of seven held around the state each spring. All funds raised go toward supporting statewide services and vital research toward a cure in the fight against Alzheimer's disease.

“I couldn’t have been happier with the performances, the production, the funds raised, the decorations and the overall success of the event,” said Phillips, regional development director of the Alzheimer’s Association. “A big thank you to David Nelson and his team at Plant Broadcasting for the professional production of the event and the wonderful dance floor and backdrop. A big thank you to Ginger Nelson and her decorating team for making the entire ballroom look captivating. Thank you to our hosts for the show, WALB TV’s Ben Roberts and Karla Heath-Sands, and to our judges J.J. Jackson, owner of Dance King JJ Productions of Tifton, the reigning Miss Georgia, Carly Mathis of Leesburg, and Valdosta’s Jeani Synyard. Thank you to our show director, Samantha Helton of Albany’s of A Time To.. Dance Studio. And to our sponsors and everyone who came out for the event.”

About 500 people attended the event.

“We exceeded our goal this year because of the visible leaders in the community who dedicate their time and resources to participate in such a worthy cause,” Phillips said. The South Georgia Region of the Alzheimer’s Association, Georgia Chapter, represents 35 counties surrounding Tift.

Tifton attorney Sandy Sims and personal trainer Gail Barnard were crowd pleasers, dancing to “Save a Horse, Ride a Cowboy,” and together they raised nearly $19,000. Katie Tenneson, co-owner of Tenneson Nissan, danced the Swing with Dr. Joe Lewis, under the direction of Amanda Johnson Swanson of Tifton. They raised nearly $12,000, not including the dealership’s dotation of nearly $7,000 in November 2013. Charleston Carter, court administrator of the Tifton Judicial Circuit, who is from Adel and lives in Tifton, danced with Serena Garcia of Atlanta, and was an avid fundraiser of nearly $9,000.

Other Albany area dancers were Paige Harrell of DOCO Credit Union in Albany with Steven Cantrell, Emily Plummer of Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital Center with Tony Mangiapane, and April Reardon with Gary Fowler. Sonny Shroyer, “Enos” of Dukes of Hazzard fame, represented Valdosta, dancing the Hustle with Hannah Moore, co-owner of MotionDance Studio in Valdosta.

Sponsors of the event were: Plant Telecommunications & Plant TiftNet, DOCO Credit Union, Georgia Crown Distributors, Tenneson Nissan, Sandy Sims, South Georgia Medical Center’s Dogwood Senior Health Center, Dr. Mac Sims, the Bowen family, Judge Melanie Cross, the Hamilton family and friends, Georgia Living Management and the Syvia Barr Center in Adel. Media Partners were: WALB TV, Plant Broadcasting and The Tifton Gazette. Community partners included: A Time To … Dance and Fitness Studio in Albany, The Pink Slipper in Leesburg, Motion Dance Studios in Valdosta, Olive Garden and RubyTuesday. Visit Dancing Stars of South Georgia on Facebook for more pictures and news and dancingstarsofsouthgeorgia.com to view fundraising efforts. Call 229-388-8219 to order a DVD of the event for $20.

Anyone needing more information on the importance of an early diagnosis or suspecting they or a loved one may have dementia should call the 24/7 Helpline 1-800-272-3900 or visit alz.org for the latest information.

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