Dancing Stars of Greenwich Charity Dance-Off wowed and raised $144,000 for Abilis

The dancers twirled and danced tango, did rumba and cha cha cha during the fourth Greenwich Dancing Stars charity dance on September 17, presented by Fred Astaire Dance Studio in Greenwich in support of Abilis. Abilis is a non-profit organization based in Fairfield County that provides services and support to over 800 people with disabilities and their families. Over $144,000 was raised for Abilis through the event which will support Abilis programs and services throughout Fairfield County.

For the very first time, the coveted Mirrorball Trophy for Best Dancer and the People’s Choice Award for Best Fundraiser have been awarded to the same dancer! This year’s double winner was Carly Samalin, 14, from Greenwich, Connecticut, who was the youngest dancer of the evening. Carly is a freshman at Greenwich High School and a member of the Abilis Youth Board. Carly and her dance partner, professional dancer and dance teacher Fred Astaire Dance Studio in Greenwich Matthew Ames, wowed the judges with their Aladdin-inspired dance. Carly also won the People’s Choice Award for her outstanding fundraising efforts which raised $34,863 out of a total of $144,000 raised!

“What a phenomenal night of dancing at Dancing Stars of Greenwich,” noted Elmar Schmidt, owner and ballroom dancing instructor of Fred Astaire Dance Studio in Greenwich. “All the dancers were good enough to perform on the hit TV show DWTS! Carly and Matthew really wowed the audience and caused a stir with their amazing and catchy dancing which won them the Mirrorball trophy for Best Dance. Kudos to all !”

The master of ceremonies for the event was Ali Wentworthco-creator, star and co-executive producer of Uppercase series, former correspondent of the The Oprah Winfrey Show. Famous judges included Brendan Frasereight-time award-winning actor who has been a huge supporter of Abilis and the Dancing Stars of Greenwich event each year; Eric ShojiDJ and TV show co-host Dance it on the network for life, and Meg TolinPiperBroadway actress (Maria in The Sound of Music, Grand Hotel, Show Boat), stepped in as celebrity judges after Lara Spencer and Billy Blanks Jr. had last-minute disputes.

“What a fabulous evening! We at Abilis are all so grateful to our community and Fred Astaire Dance Studios Greenwich for putting on such a spectacular event,” said Amy Montimurro, CEO and President of Abilis. “The Dancing Stars of Greenwich Charity Ball is one of our favorite events of the year and the partnership with Fred Astaire Studio in Greenwich is invaluable. A special thank you to all the amazing dancers who spent months training, then fundraising and dancing to support Abilis.

Dancers at the event include: Brad and Erica Walkerof Greenwich – the first amateur couple to compete; Trevor Corneille of Greenwich; Lindsay Darell of Stamford; Afton Fraser from Greenwich, who has appeared in all Dancing Stars of Greenwich events; Ayo Hartsenior college basketball coach at Sacred Heart Greenwich; Melissa Levin of Greenwich; Elaine Madone from Greenwich, which won the People’s Choice Trophy last year; Greg Mason from Greenwich, Makeda Mays-Green of Stamford, Chris McCormack of Greenwich and Carly Samalin of Greenwich, 14, who was the youngest dancer and a freshman new to Greenwich High School on the Abilis Youth Board.

Each dancer is paired with a professional partner from Fred Astaire Studio. These dancers were: Matthew Ames, Clemens Lengenfelder, Sanja Pavlovic, Christian Perry and Elmar Schmidt.

Those wishing to support the event and Abilis can always donate at greenwichdancingstars.com or abilis.us.

Photo credit: Cara Gilbride, Callalily Studios.

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