Steamboat’s own dancing stars take the stage for a great cause
What is CASA and how do I volunteer?
Court Appointed Special Advocates are volunteer citizens who are trained to advocate for abused and neglected children in the court system.
Pre-service training is approximately 32 hours, half of which is online. Training is ongoing.
Interested volunteers can apply on-line at rockymountaincasa.org
If you go:
What: Dancing with the Stars
When: 7 p.m., Friday, Jan. 27
Where: Strings Music Pavilion, 900 Strings Road
Tickets can be purchased at Yampa Valley Bank in Steamboat Springs and Craig.
Stars of the show
Star Dave Fleming and choreographer Jeni Giedd
Star Jeff LaRoche and choreographer Penny Hamilton
Star Shannon Lukens and choreographer Melissa Cartan
Star Erin Nemec and choreographer Nicole Idzahl
Star Geoff Petis and choreographer Deb Curd
Star Paula Salky and choreographer Roddy Beall
Star Sam Silva and choreographer Andrea Kortas
Star Kady Watson and choreographer Casey Bogenhagen
Steamboat Springs — When Steamboat’s police chief got the call, it was too shocking.
In a competition?
Luckily, he’s the boss so a call went out to his staff for a volunteer to waltz in Steamboat’s very own “Dancing with the Stars.”
Detective Sam Silva, a rather serious chap, stepped up to the plate to represent the police department in this year’s annual fundraiser for Northwest Rocky Mountain CASA.
Silva’s joined by an attorney, a restaurant owner, a banker and other prominent members of the community willing to put themselves on display as they support abused and neglected children.
“Being in law enforcement and going to court, I see how important it is for these children to be represented in court,” Silva said.
On Friday night, Northwest Rocky Mountain CASA —Court Appointed Special Advocates — holds its most important fundraiser, which pairs eight professional dance choreographers with amateur partners chosen from Routt and Moffatt counties. It makes for a hilarious evening for the audience and dancers alike.
Former pro baseball player and E3Chophouse owner Jeff LaRoche is thought to have a leg up on the competition after he had to cancel last year’s appearance, thus having a year to practice with his teacher Penny Hamilton.
“You would think that, until you actually have to see me dance,” LaRoche said. “I pride myself on being athletic, but I lack in the artistic side.”
“Jeff’s not telling the truth,” countered Hamilton. “He’s a performer. He was a professional baseball player … in front of millions … he knows how to please the crowd.”
One dancer who didn’t get much practice was Paula Salky, who was called after a dancer canceled. Luckily for her, Salky’s background is in dancing. But Salky protests, saying she mostly directs local productions and works retail these days.
“I haven’t danced in a hundred years,” Salky said.
Salky brings to mind the infamous Shakespeare quote: “The lady doth protest too much, methinks.” Especially since her choreographer is talented hometown dancer Roddy Beall.
“OK, that’s like asking someone to dance with Fred Astaire or John Travolta,” Salky admitted.
While both dancers and choreographers love to rib each other about their talent, or lack thereof, the cause they’re dancing for is serious and profound for children who have found themselves in the court system because of abuse or neglect.
“I had a panic attack questioning my abilities,” Salky said. “Then I realized this is for the children who have panic attacks because they don’t know what’s going to happen with their family and lives.”
CASA volunteers train to represent abused and neglected children who are caught up in the court system.
“The volunteers are assigned and meet with these children regularly … they form a team with the social workers, attorney for the child, and sometimes, attorney for the parents,” explained CASA Executive Director Sue Fegelein.
The CASA volunteers give their reports to local Judges who use the invaluable information to make decisions for children.
“They don’t always have parents who look out for them,” said Detective Silva, whose own mother is actually a CASA volunteer in California.
Silva drew the talented choreographer/hair stylist Andrea Kortas as his coach. She and her partner Kathryn Petersen won last year with a burlesque piece.
Kortas says don’t let her police detective partner fool you with his “serious” demeanor and lack of formal dance.
“He likes to country dance. Let’s just say we implemented this in our piece. He’s got some moves,” Kortas said.
“We are all like, ‘we wanna win,’” said choreographer Nicole Idzahl, who will be dancing with Olympian snowboarder Erin Nemec. “But the whole point is to make money for these children. It’s one of my favorite organizations.”
Idzahl said audience members will hear first-hand from an older child who’s benefitted from CASA.
“It will be magnificent for the crowd to understand the importance of these kids having a voice in court,” she said.
The winners are actually chosen based on the amount of money raised in their names.
Dancing with the Stars tickets are still available for Friday night’s performance, which begins at 7:30 p.m at the Strings Music Pavilion.
To donate money in the dancers’ names go to rockymountaincasa.org.
Tickets can also be bought online or at Yampa Valley Bank in Craig and Steamboat.
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It was a love story that brought Jason Erwin to Steamboat Springs from Nashville, Tennessee.