7 Steamboat stars dance for a good cause this weekend | SteamboatToday.com

7 Steamboat stars dance for a good cause this weekend

Spencer Powell
For Steamboat Pilot & Today
Steamboat Springs Olympian and "Star" Ben Berend practices with choreographer Alexa Struss ahead of the Dancing With the Stars competition and fundraiser.
Ben Berend/Courtesy photo

Since the beginning of 2023, seven stars of the Steamboat Springs community have been working with local choreographers on a three-minute dance routine.

They’ve also been busy raising money to support the Northwest Rocky Mountain Court Appointed Special Advocates for Children, and at 7 p.m. on Saturday, May 6, all that hard work will culminate during the 12th annual Dancing with the Stars competition at Strings Music Pavilion.

“It’s just such a fun event,” said Alan Hallman, executive director of Northwest Rocky Mountain CASA. “And everybody’s just having such a great time and laughing. And, again, I can’t say it enough, but the talent that these people have is amazing. It really is amazing.”

Hallman said the competitors typically demonstrate a lot of humor in their routines but said a lot of work and skill are seen as well.

Olympian and competitor Ben Berend said he was surprised by how challenging learning his routine has been these past few months. He said three minutes of dance choreography seemed attainable at first, but months later he realized how hard it really is.

“Learning anything new as an adult is hard, right?” Berend admitted.

He also said he doesn’t feel nervous yet, but likely will about five minutes before he dances on stage for the first time in his life.

If you go

What: Northwest Rocky Mountain CASA Dancing With the Stars

When: 7 p.m., Saturday, May 6

Where: Strings Music Pavilion

Tickets: Sold out! Join the waitlist at kidscasa.org/dwts-2023/

But Berend had the luck of teaming up with a choreographer that he knew from work, Alexa Struss, and lauded her extensive dance background going back to her time on the Purdue University Dance Team.

“Having her teach me, it’s just been a super-cool experience,” Berend said. “She’s gotten a lot of laughs out of it, that’s for sure.”

Berend, a Steamboat native, represented the United States in Nordic Combined during the 2018 Winter Olympics and serves on the Steamboat Springs Parks and Recreation Commission.

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Each year, there are three categories for the stars to win. Competitors need to either impress the panel of judges — comprised of stars from previous years — or impress the audience, whose applause is measured using a sound meter. Then there’s the grand champion, who is chosen based on the money they raise.

The stars raise money from local businesses and members of the community. Last year, the fundraiser brought in an all-time high of $128,000 to support children in Routt, Grand and Moffat counties who suffered abuse or neglect.

Before each competitor’s dance, a video shows highlights from the months of training and gives the stars an opportunity to talk about why Northwest Rocky Mountain CASA is personally important to them.

Then the stars perform the routine they’ve been practicing for so long. After the performances and while the votes are tallied, members of the audience are given the chance to compete in a dance-off free-for-all for a $100 gift card. The winner of the dance-off is chosen by the audience’s applause.

Each year’s stars are chosen to reflect different corners of Steamboat’s community, and this year’s roster represents winter sports, education, religion, health care, business leaders and local government.

Amy Satkiewicz is a longtime local who has worked in various high-ranking sales positions for companies including Nike and Honey Stinger and is on the board of directors for the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club. She’s dancing with Traci Hiatt.

Kyle Rebik, dancing with Penny Hamilton, is an up-and-coming figure who moved to Steamboat to work as a lift operator but is now serving as the Youth Pastor at the Steamboat Christian Center.

Michael Buccino serves as a member of Steamboat Springs City Council and has worked for decades as a designer. He also serves as the City Council representative on the board of the Yampa Valley Housing Authority and will dance with Haley Orton.

Celine Wicks, dancing with Scott Goodhart, works as the superintendent of the Steamboat Springs School District and was formerly the principal of Strawberry Park Elementary School.

Betsy Wood is the director of community outreach for Alpine Bank. She also works with many nonprofits around town and will be dancing with Rachel Radetsky.

Brittney Wilburn works as the executive director of The Health Partnership and is also a volunteer bike coach for Ski and Bike Kare’s women’s mountain bike clinics. She will be dancing with Jessica LeBlanc.

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