Eight dancers will take the stage to show off their new dance moves at the annual Dancing with the Brookline Stars fundraiser this Saturday, November 5, at the Our Lady of Annunciation Church in West Roxbury at 6:30 pm. They have worked through sweat, missed some beats, taken wrong turns, and repeated many counts to perfect their ballroom dancing routine.

“They will get out there and embarrass themselves in front of 400 people, and I give them all credit,” said Susan Rack, the past president of the Brookline Rotary Club who is now the chair of public relations. “They are putting themselves out there very personally for their charities.”

The Brookline Rotary is a nonprofit that helps to resolve local, national, and international problems through fundraising and volunteering. The organization looks for new and creative ways to raise money for many great causes, and four years ago the organization started what has become its most profitable fundraiser ever, Dancing with The Brookline Stars. This dance competition is in its fourth year running, supporting eight charities. Tickets and sponsorships for the event can be purchased here.

Dancing with the Brookline Stars was initiated by Elias Audy, who wanted to help community nonprofits. With support from the rotary committee, Audy spends the year recruiting dancers and charities for the event. It can take up to a year to find a dancer to represent a local charity. However, much of the preparation happens in March for the November event.

Each year the committee recruits dancers who have a connection with the charity that they dance for. Each dancer somehow is already contributing to Brookline. Guests can support their charity and dancers, as well as sponsor the event on different levels: bronze is $1,000, silver is $2,000, and gold is $5,000.

For the past three years, this fun event has raised money for many charities. During its first year about $90,000 was raised. The amount almost doubled during the second year, and the third year more than $200,000 was raised. Each charity would receive at least $5,000. This year, Rack said there’s hope for more.

“Our expectation is that each charity will generate at least $10,000, based on what we have done in past years,” Rack said.

Over the years, the event has generally raised funds for charities that focus on children and seniors, and this year there’s a lot of support for education as well.

“We try to not be particularly focused on one area, so we touch upon different areas of need in Brookline,” Rack said.

The charities featured this year are the Calculus Project, Brookline Early Education Program, Kids Clothes Club, Brookline Sister City Project, Brookline Food Pantry, Brookline Senior Center, Lunch Committee Against Domestic Violence, Brookline Education Foundation, and Local Charitable Projects of Brookline Rotary.

Each dancer has only ten dance lessons to perfect their ballroom routine. While the eight dancing stars practice, their fundraising teams are out collecting donations. Each dancer will get a point for every dollar raised.

“We encourage them to start fundraising in the summer. But, again, it’s different; each team does their own planning,” Rack said, noting that the rotary club’s event committee helps and advises them with their fundraiser ideas. “We take care of the mechanics of the event, so they don’t have to worry about that.”

No one will know which dancer and team raised the most money, until the night of the event.

There will be two winners: The dancer with the team who raised the most money for their charity, and the dancer who performs the best. There will be three judges.

Although Brookline Rotary’s annual pancake breakfast in April is the club’s longest fundraiser of 20 years, Dancing with the Brookline Stars has become their biggest fundraiser. Rack said that the fundraiser will continue for as long as it works.

“Most fundraisers have a lifespan of about 4 or 5 years, so who knows how long we will do it,” she said. Rack also mentioned that the event will continue “as long as it benefits the community and there is community support for it.”

Dancing with the Brookline Stars takes place on Saturday, November 5, at the Our Lady of Annunciation Church in West Roxbury at 6:30 pm.

By Vekonda Luangaphay