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Shall We Dance fundraiser buoys key nonprofit agency

Sexual Assault Crisis Center of Fox Cities, survivors will benefit from successful event

June 6, 2013

Survivors of sexual assault or abuse in the Fox Cities will continue to have free access to important counseling and medical and legal advocacy services thanks to another successful Shall We Dance fundraiser on Saturday June 1.

About $100,000 was raised by the eight community dancers and their professional dance partners and $220,000 overall to help the Sexual Assault Crisis Center of the Fox Cities, which also provides sexual abuse prevention education for children and adults in schools and local communities. Six local companies, including Community First Credit Union, were major sponsors of the sixth annual Shall We Dance benefit attended by about 600 people at the Radisson Paper Valley Hotel in downtown Appleton.

In 2012, Shall We Dance contributed $210,000 to the nonprofit agency, which relies on United Way funding, grant support and fundraising.

“Looking back at the books, (Shall We Dance) brought our agency out of the red in 2009, which is pretty profound,” said Caroline Lasecki, SACC executive director. “It’s crucial to us to continue to provide our programs that we offer at no cost to our clients. If we had to charge our clients – roughly 77 percent of them didn’t have insurance last year – where would they go? Where would they get this help? And if they don’t get the help, it stays with them and can cause self-harm, alcohol dependency, drug addiction, job loss, mental illness and sometimes even death.”

CFCU executive Kevin Hartz and his professional dance partner Pamela Cribbs of Absolute Danz dazzled both on the dance floor and at fundraising, claiming the Community Engagement and People’s Choice awards for raising the most money in advance and during the event. Hartz attributed their total donation of $45,427 to the generosity of his fellow CFCU senior leadership team members, marketing department promotions and the employees and members at all CFCU branches that helped raise funds through the sale of icons along with participation in casual days, bake sales, special meals, candy bar sales and a day off raffle.

“Shall We Dance was wonderful,” said Cathie Tierney, CFCU president/ceo. “Of course Kevin’s success couldn’t have happened without the incredible support of the entire Community First team and our very generous, caring members.”

Celebrity judges and performers brought in for the event selected Kip Golden of Miron Construction as the top male dancer and Kristy Christensen of McCarty Law, a long-time SACC board member and former president, as the top female dancer.

Hartz was grateful for the donations and thrilled to be able to help provide key funding to SACC. “Their mission is all about helping, healing and giving hope to sexual assault victims,” he said. “To have some where for victims to go to and to come out of it with hope for the future is a great thing.”

Lasecki praised the dancers for making the sacrifice to participate. “Some of them said this was the hardest thing they’ve ever done in their life,” she said. “Our community will benefit so greatly from all of their time and effort.”

Title-sponsor J.J. Keller Foundation, which helped create the event six years ago, was joined by major sponsors: Absolute Danz, Coldwell Banker The Real Estate Group, Kimberly-Clark, U.S. Venture and Community First. “It’s impossible to thank everybody,” Lasecki said. “There are so many people involved to make this a successful event. Community First has embraced us, our mission, spreading awareness about the Sexual Assault Crisis Center and our services. It’s so heart-warming and we’re so appreciative.”

Other dancers who participated were: Emily Deem of WLUK Fox 11, Todd Doxtater of Shopko Express Pharmacy, Patti Jorgensen of Fox Valley Technical College, Kim Peeters of Coldwell Banker and Kim Sippola of the Outagamie County Regional Airport. Professional dancers and dance studios that participated were: Chuck and Jessie Spencer, Jay Morth and Angela Athey of Valley Social Dance Studio and Frank and Angela Gillitzer and Pamela and Zeke Cribbs of Absolute Danz.