Flashing lights, fog and energetic dancers filled the Fullerton College Campus Theatre stage as crowds cheered throughout the night.
On Thursday, Feb. 8, Pathways of Hope held their fourth annual fundraising event, “Look Who’s Dancing”, to raise funds for their mission to help those in need with emergency housing and food.
Around 500 community members were in attendance with ticket sales that started at $50 a piece. Many local businesses such as insurance agencies also sponsored the event.
“It’s really beautiful to see the community come together for such an important issue,” said Gayle Glasbad, Santa Ana resident. “Anyone can be so close to being homeless at anytime. It’s just a beautiful event to go to.”
Their initial goal was $20,000, but by the end of the night Pathways of Hope raised over $67,000 through sponsorships, ticket sales and donations.
The event began with an opening reception in the Fullerton College 200 building where hors d’oeuvre’s were served. Beer and wine were also sold and attendees had light conversations with one another.
Attendees transitioned to the campus theatre where the main event began.
The event was led by Diana Drake, emcee for the evening, and started off with a grand performance by The Snappy Tappers of OLLI (Osher Lifelong Learning Institute). This dance group was made up of seniors that danced to songs from the early 1900s such as “In the Mood” and “Puttin’ on the Ritz.”
“Look Who’s Dancing” had a similar format as “Dancing with the Stars,” where each celebrity is paired with a professional dancer and competes with one another.
The competitors of the evening included prominent community members such as Minard Duncan, previously part of the board of trustees for the Fullerton School District, Dena David, owner of Vino Nostra located in Downtown Fullerton, and Greg Schulz, president of Fullerton College.
After every dance performance, they would get a score from three judges. The judges consisted of Betsy Azariah, a long time supporter of the charity, Jack Bedell, emeritus professor of sociology at Cal State University of Fullerton, and William Lett, musical theatre and dance lecturer at CSUF.
These judges had a similar layout as American Idol judges with Azariah as the kind judge, Bedell as neutral and Lett as the harsher and more critical one.
There were three awards given out during the event. Fritz von Coelln won the People’s Choice Award for garnering the most votes from audience members.
Coelln danced to melodies from “The Phantom of the Opera” which included a cape, a phantom mask and dance moves from Michael Jackson’s “Thriller.” The reaction from the audience made it obvious that Coelln captured their hearts through their nonstop applause and cheering.
The other two awards, “Money Money Money Award” and “Look Who’s Dancing Champion,” was won by Dena David for raising the most money through sponsorships and donations and also for scoring the most points from the judges. David garnered 30 out of 30 points possible.
Each dancer gave it their all and received enthusiastic cheers from the audiences during every performance.
“I just tried to take this all in as a dancer and I’ll tell you that the experience was amazing,” said David Gillanders, Executive Director of Pathways of Hope. “I would recommend it to anyone who wants to do it.”
The event finished with Drake singing a rendition of the hopeful song “Somewhere over the Rainbow.”
“The community coming together to acknowledge and take ownership of helping the homeless is a really important thing,” Gillanders said. “We’re really proud of the community and all the volunteers, and especially the dancers. It was just fantastic.”
Pathways of Hope was established 43 years ago and continues with their mission to help feed community members who are hungry and keep families off the streets.
“I physically and visually see things happening whereas some organizations, you really don’t know where your money is going or what’s happening,” said Cindy Von Coelln, one of many volunteers at Pathways of Hope. “Here, you can actually meet the families and see the children that have new homes.”
For more information on Pathways of Hope such as volunteer opportunities, check out their website here.