A handful of local “stars” will get schooled during the seventh annual Dancing with the Hermiston Stars.

Taking over organizing the popular event, the Hermiston Education Foundation is looking forward to a fun time while also providing an opportunity for seven local nonprofit organizations to raise money during the event.

Each of the local stars will be paired with a professional from the Utah Ballroom Dance Company. After working with the professionals during the week, the dancers will attempt to work the crowd to raise additional money for their cause and in hopes of bringing home the coveted mirror ball trophy.

Dancing with the Hermiston Stars is Saturday, Jan. 12 at 7 p.m. in the auditorium at Hermiston High School, 600 S. First St. Advance tickets are $20 for adults and $10 for students. They are available by clicking “Events” at www.hermistoneducationfoundation.org or at the Hermiston School District office, 305 S.W. 11th St. Tickets purchased at the door are $25.

With a theme of Music Legends, the performances should be legendary. The local dancers include Beth Anderson, a drama teacher with the Hermiston School District. She is dancing for the host organization to raise money for the Hermiston Education Foundation, who provides grants to local educators to enhance educational opportunities for students in the district. Anderson reports her last dance performance at age 6 was a tap routine to “I’m a Little Teapot.”

As for Jake Bacon, Highland Hills Elementary School principal, it’s Hammer Time. He will attempt to dispel rumors that “you can’t touch this” as he raises money for the Kiwanis Club of Hermiston.

Jonny Badillo, who’s dancing for Court Appointed Special Advocates, picked up some tips from Umatilla-Morrow County Head Start co-worker Jesus Rome, who was a participant in the 2016 event (view at www.youtube.com/watch?v=VBFR9pfNOis).

Tony Garberg, director of cardiopulmonary services at Good Shepherd Health Care System, will breathe easy as he’s raising money for the Hermiston Rotary Club. The service club is supporting Pioneer Relief Nursery to help prevent child abuse.

Kara Frazier, a first grade teacher at Desert View Elementary School, will kick up her heels for Made to Thrive. The local nonprofit provides support to at-risk youngsters through sports, activities music and art.

Ashley Umbarger, who grew up attending Hermiston Campus Life, now serves as its executive director with her husband, Jeff. And, she’s hoping to cut a rug and a check for the faith-based teen program.

Mary Winebarger, who moved to Hermiston in 2010, got involved with Altrusa International of Hermiston in 2017, serving as treasurer. A semi-retired bookkeeper, she’s hoping to add some cash to the ledger of the local service club.

Getting people to commit to dancing wasn’t a difficult process, said HEF co-president Karen Sherman. The education foundation contacted several nonprofit organizations and asked if they wanted to be involved with the fundraiser. The local organizations then found a willing person to dance on their behalf.

“I think that speaks volumes about our community — that organizations are full of people that will put themselves out there,” said Tricia Mooney, Hermiston School District superintendent.

And, Mooney, herself, knows what it means to put her money where her feet are. Despite being apprehensive, Mooney danced during the 2018 event.

“I felt like I really accomplished something when I made it through my 90 seconds,” she said with a laugh. “I’m not a dancer, so it was a little scary but it was fun.”

The winner will be determined by a combination of the judge’s scores, audience votes and money raised by each dancer. People can cast votes in the form of donations at the event or via https://squareup.com/store/hef.

The first half of Dancing with the Hermiston Stars features the local dancers pairing up with professionals. The second half of the show includes a program presented by the Utah Ballroom Dance Company. In addition to an evening of fun, Mooney said it serves as a way to support multiple nonprofits.

“The event has been going on for many years in Hermiston,” she said. “It’s a way to benefit a lot of different deserving organizations in the community.”

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