By Pat Christman
The Free Press
Even though the participants in Mankato’s version of the famous television dance competition Dancing With the Stars didn’t have the star power and name recognition of Donald Driver, Apolo Ohno and Melissa Gilbert, they had one thing the national contestants do not have: a local cause.
Saturday’s Dancing With the Mankato Stars at the Kato Ballroom raised money for the local chapter of the American Red Cross. Local personalities were paired with dance professionals to learn a dance, but, unlike the television show, it was a one-dance affair. The dance styles varied from jive to quickstep, from ballroom to swing.
Contestants could also earn votes after their dance by persuading the crowd to donate a dollar for each vote to the Red Cross, which was added to the judges score to determine a winner. Exclusively Diamonds owner Sarah Person and MSU dance instructor Paul Finocchiaro were declared the winners after all the votes were counted.
Organizers estimated raising nearly $45,000 during the inaugural event.