Dance United raises nearly $27K for United Way


FILE PHOTO: Annie Sanders, CEO and president of United Way of Gratiot and Isabella County, left, receives a check on behalf of the organization Nov. 8, 2019 at McGuirk Arena.

From the synchronized tap dancing of the DDD Tap Club, to the Mount Pleasant Fit Club "getting physical," the audience at Dance United cheered and clapped with every performance.

In the past eight years, the event has raised more than $200,000 for the United Way Foundation of Gratiot and Isabella Counties. This was the first year teams were allowed to participate in the competition. 

This year’s goal was to reach $30,000. The grand total of donations by the end of the evening was $26,901.61. 

McGuirk Arena was packed with the performers' friends and family. A small stage was set up with two black curtains on either side. The atmosphere was eager with anticipation to see the dancers. Supporters of all ages came to cheer on their favorite competitors.  

The showcase opened with performances from Central Michigan University students, staff and faculty, as well as local dance academies. The 12 performances featured a variety of styles of dancing including: Hip-hop, contemporary, tap, ballet and Latin dances. 

Rochester Hills junior Amanda Lewis was one of the student coordinators for Dance United.

“It’s an honor to be a coordinator, because a lot of people don’t get that opportunity," Lewis said. "It allows me to a part of something bigger than myself."

At the end of the evening, awards were given out to team PEAK, who raised the most money for the community team division. Brandon McDonald and Alisha Lodewyk won best student duo and Manuel and Laura Martinez won best community duo. 

 “I wanted another way to give back to the community,” Lodewyk said after the big win.  

Supporters of McDonald and Lodewyk cheered wildly with signs and loud hoots and hollers after the hosts announced they had won.  

This was the second time CMU Police Officer Martinez has participated in Dance United. This time, she performed with her husband Manuel.  

After the Martinez’s big finish, the crowd erupted into applause.

“Due to our culture, we wanted to do something that was culturally connected,” Martinez said. “We have an important part of Latin population here at CMU. It’s a small part, but we just wanted to let them know we integrate, we love them, we’re family.”