United Way 'Dance United' event raises money, showcases talent of CMU community members

Six couples showcased their dance moves for the sake of raising money for United Way of Isabella County on Thursday, including University First Lady Elizabeth Ross.

Dance United is an event planned and organized by select students from the Recreation, Parks and Leisure program at Central Michigan University. The event was designed with the vision to raise money toward the $80,000 fundraising goal of CMU employees.

Each couple raised money to perform and received several donations from organizations such as the Inter-fraternity Counsel, Habitat for Humanity, American Red Cross, Salvation Army and the Chippewa Marching Band.

Raising over $65,000 before the event, Dance United was the next step toward raising money for the United Way programs in Isabella County.

"This event is all about coming together to celebrate all that makes up this community," said Director of United Way Isabella County Tom Olver. "The mission and vision of United Way is to engage citizens in an effort to improve the lives of our neighbors and friends, and meet the needs of this community."

Michael McArthur was among those who put their dancing skills on display for the sake of charity.

McArthur is currently a graduate student at CMU and received his undergraduate degree in Broadcasting and Cinematic Arts at CMU, as well.

"I originally was supposed to be paired with the assistant director of Multicultural Academic Services, but when President Ross wasn't going to be able to make it, I was informally told that I would be paired with Mrs. Ross," McArthur said.

McArthur said he enjoys dancing with friends and family, but had yet to perform a choreographed or organized dance.

"I was a little nervous at first because I didn't know what I was getting myself into," McArthur said. "We were fortunate enough to have a great dance teacher, and Mrs. Ross was very easy-going and fun to be partnered with."

As part of the deal involving McArthur being partnered with Elizabeth Ross, University President George Ross requested to meet with McArthur prior to the event.

"(Ross) mainly just wanted to wish me luck and take some of the pressure off of the whole thing," he said. "Yeah, he may be the president of the university, but he's just an ordinary guy like you and me and I enjoyed the opportunity to meet with him."

In preparation for this event, McArthur said he and Elizabeth Ross met six or seven times to practice their routine, meeting for at least an hour each time.

"Mrs. Ross is really a great dancer; she had a pretty quick learning curve, which challenged me to step up my game to make sure I was keeping pace," he said.

Although he was initially unable to attend, President George Ross was able to watch his wife and McArthur perform.

"It was great to see CMU come together to raise money for the United Way programs here in our community," he said.

Elizabeth Ross also was pleased by the event and said she was glad to be part of it.

"It was a very successful event," she said.  "I see it growing in the years to come."

Other couples who participated in Dance United were Director of the CMU Leadership Institute Dan Gaken and Assistant Director of Admissions Erin Smith; Mount Pleasant city commissioner Jim Holton and wife Karen Holton; Goodyear, Az. senior Alexandria Kennedy and Grosse Ile junior Zach Kowalski; Fremont senior Sammie Paine and Hesperia senior Killian Richeson; and Farmington senior Grace Stevenson and Wyoming graduate student Jason Vasquez.

The Fund Drive officially ends Dec. 31.


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