Saturday marks the third annual Dancing with the Putnam County Stars fundraiser for the Putnam County Youth Development Commission (PCYDC). The contest will take place at the DePauw Track and Tennis Center with doors opening at 5:45 p.m. Dinner will be served from 6:16 to 7:30 p.m., with the contest to start at 7:45 p.m.
This year, 11 contestants -- five women and six men -- will be vying for the crown.
Before practice began for the competition, each of the dancers took some time to talk about themselves.
Mary Anne Birt is the Area 30 Career Center culinary arts and restaurant management instructor. She has been married to Ron Birt for nearly 30 years. They have two children, daughter Lesli and son Daniel and wife Lindsey, and grandchildren Hallie and Jaxon.
Birt enjoys collecting cookbooks (with more than 170 so far) and enjoys reading them and subjecting her family to new recipes. She also enjoys watching movies, going to zumba class, bike riding, church activities, growing worms for composting and spending time with her family -- including helping her nieces with 4-H projects.
She is a member of Greencastle Christian Church, PEO and the Purdue Alumni Association.
Her previous dance experience includes four years on the pom-pom squad at Clinton Central High School where she danced during basketball and football games. She also took west coast swing lessons with her husband.
"After having cancer, you think with a different part of your heart," Birt said. "I am so blessed to be here that I want to dance for my Lord, my fellow ladies with cancer and in honor of those who have had complications of breast cancer that we have lost.
Birt said she also hopes to be an example to her students through this experience.
"I am always prodding and pushing my students to do new things, and to think outside their comfort level," Birt said. "I just enjoy learning new things. And, my husband has called me dramatic before so it lets me be dramatic for one night."
Ron Spencer is the technical service manager at Dixie Chopper. He has been married to Duston Spencer for almost 20 years. They have an 11-year-old daughter, Bronwyn.
His hobbies include raising a few cattle, ATV riding and helping his daughter with her 4-H projects. He is a member of Bainbridge Christian Church and is involved in youth softball. His 4-H involvement includes being a board member, council member and club leader.
With no dance experience, he was unsure about dancing at first but has come around.
"I realized the impact of this fundraiser and how important it is to the youth of the community," Spencer said.
He hopes to, "have fun, learn a few dance moves and raise money for the youth of Putnam County."
Steve Michael is sales manager at York GM. He and his wife Nancy have two children, Peter, 22, and Mary, 19. His hobbies include music and travel, and he is an active member of the Greater Greencastle Chamber of Commerce and the Humane Society of Putnam County.
Michael has dance experience, much to his chagrin.
"In fifth grade, I was enrolled in Doris Hinkle's School of Dance to learn some ballroom dances," Michael said. "This was done against my will."
This time around, dancing should be a happier experience.
"I agreed to dance because it looked like fun, thought I might lose a few pounds -- also intense pressure from Patti Harmless," Michael said. "I hope to raise some money for a great organization and have some fun in the process."
Jeff Rich is an Indiana-licensed auctioneer and owner of Jeff Rich Auction Service. He is also a school bus driver for Cloverdale Schools and manager of Cloverdale Space Place storage facility.
He has been married to Kathy for 22 years. Together they have one daughter, Tiffany Pulliam, and 6-year-old grandson Teegan Michael Scott.
His hobbies include spending time attending auctions when he isn't conducting them and watching Teegan grow and "remind me what the important things in life really are."
He is a member of the Putnam County Board of Realtors, Cloverdale FFA Advisory Board, Cloverdale Masonic Lodge F&AM No. 132, Scottish Rite-Valley of Terre Haute, Cloverdale Community Housing board of directors and a proud supporter of Putnam County 4-H programs.
He had no dance experience coming into this, but was hoping to change that.
"After April 9, I hope to be able to say that I at least have dance experience and if not, I know that I will at least be able to say that I have had the 'experience of a lifetime' and been able to make new friendships because of it."
Rich said he got involved with Dancing with the Putnam County Stars in hopes of helping support the youth of the county.
"I have always said that if you give your time and energy to those things which involve young people, then it will be a success," Rich said. "If my helping out in this fundraiser helps just one young person, then it will have been worth it."