Dave Shearon already has a full life. As one of the owner/operators of Ashford Manor in Watkinsville, his days include the 24/7 operation of a beautiful historic home that has been turned into a bed and breakfast. Recently purchasing the Thornton property next to Ashford Manor, the decision to expand was made and the resulting renovations, upgrades, furniture shopping added to the day-to-day requirements defined a pretty busy day.
Yet when asked to be one of the “stars” for the benefit for Project Safe, Dave immediately said “Yes!” Though he has no training in dance, doesn’t live in Athens, and doesn’t consider himself a “star,” he was pleased to be able to participate in such a big way for the cause of helping victims of domestic abuse. “I said yes without even knowing how much hard work and energy would be required to be part of Dancing with the Athens Stars” he said.
Dancing with the Athens Stars is a well-known annual event that usually raises about $100,000 for charity. Ten people from community are selected and designated as “stars.” They are paired with dance instructors from the community who teach, coach and choreograph a dance for the performance.
The benefit performance is April 1st, 2012 at the Classic Center and two trophies will be awarded from among the 10 teams. One is the Judge’s Choice for the best dance routine. But, according to Dave, the more significant award is the Audience Favorite Trophy, based upon the support and funds the teams have garnered over a three-month period at various events leading up to DWTAS.
Fundraising and Training
The fundraising is takes on a whole life of its own, it seems. Appearances, events, performances, and on-line – Each dollar raised is one vote. The 10 teams walk into the Classic Center at 7:00 p.m. on Sunday for the competition with a lot of votes.
“They are votes of confidence more than anything else, since no one has seen us dance at that point,” said Dave. Throughout the last 3 months, Team 6 has hosted 15 fundraising events, one being Dave’s 60th Birthday in which they raised $6,000 to add to their total.
Dave admits that although the promotional components for all of this adventure were strenuous, it all hinged on him also learning to dance. He was partnered with 27 year old Elissa Bacso, who is trained in classical ballet.“I am and I do consider myself a star after 3 months of working with her,” he said. Signing on people with a passion for helping victims of Domestic Violence, their partnership grew into Team 6, a group of folks whose purpose help generate interest and funds to bring awareness to Project Safe. Dave challenges the other teams by confidently saying “We’re on the way to winning the popular vote – raising the money so Project Safe can do its job.”
“Project safe is tremendously comprehensive in what they do and what they provide for people who are in battered situations … Women, children and even many men.” He explained that the Athens based non-profit is working to end domestic violence through crisis intervention, ongoing supportive services, systems chance advocacy and prevention and education in the community. “They provide safe housing, and sometimes safe exits from towns if somebody is in such an abusive situation that they have problems breaking free.” He is passionate about the services they provide that extend to legal and educational and even their desire to keep enough normalcy that victims are allowed bring along their pets whenever possible.
Team 6 is READY!
Team 6 has the right people to make a significant impact on this cause. “It has taken a tremendous amount of energy and time from a lot of people to raise the money … it’s every bit as arduous as learning to dance.” In addition to 100s who have had a hand in the events, he admits, he couldn’t have done it without his partner Mario Castro and Ashford Manor’s Manager Jesse Smith taking on some of his duties while he “learned to dance”
So what is the dance of choice and what did Dave learn in the last few months? We understand it will be … The Charleston. Though neither he nor Elissa had ever performed the Charleston before, he had heard of it, so she researched it, choreographed it and then taught it to Dave. Is he nervous? Not so much. Dave laughed as he said, “There are not a lot of Charleston aficionados out there. It’s a vigorous dance and as long as I can keep moving, I think I can pull it off!”
So here in the last few days before the big performance, you can still vote with your dollar for Team 6. You can vote on-line then select Team 6 to make your donation, bring cash or check to Dave at Ashford Manor, or you can still vote throughout the entire performance portion of the event. “Audience participation is KEY,” said Dave.
To that end, he vows to do whatever is necessary to raise money for Project Safe. Even dancing in front of a few thousand strangers.