LUMBERTON — Faline Dial and Owen Thomas, freshly paired for the 2017 Dancing with the Robeson County Stars competition, have issued a challenge to their competitors.
“This is destiny that we are going to win,” Thomas, an insurance agent who works out of Pembroke, said after the two were matched Sunday by a random drawing as one of 12 couples who will perform in the March fundraising event sponsored by the United Way of Robeson County. “We may not be the best dancers, but we are going to raise the most money.”
Names were drawn from a hat by Kayleigh Simmons, one half of last year’s winning team, and Allan Campbell, part of the 2014 winning team.
“When we learned we were both going to be dancing, we discussed how we should be partners,” said Dial, who owns a speech therapy business and was almost elected as a county commissioner in 2014. “But I said I didn’t think that would happen because partners are chosen by random drawing.”
Dial and Thomas said they have no real dance experience and are unsure what kind of dance routine they should pursue.
“I think we should do something like what was in the movie ‘Dirty Dancing.’ You are going in the air,” Thomas jokingly told Dial.
On Sunday, the following dancers were paired for the show that is scheduled for March 24 and March 25. Lee Scott and Brian Lindsay; Rhonda Williamson and Burnis Wilkins; Tanya Underwood and William Baker; Cynthia Browning and Sandy Jacobs; Angelica Chavis McIntyre and Joshua Locklear Cribbs; Breanna Branch and Field Davis; Jackie Hill and Gerardo Guzman; Terri Massol and Travis Wilson; Dial and Thomas; Marla Bullock and Dennis Powers; and Emily Jones and Jaywan Lowery; and Michelle Godwin and Charles Townsend.
The couples will raise money and work with a choreographer to come up with a 90-second dance routine.
Even those with little or no dancing experience can be made to shine on the stage, according to choreographers Rachel Diehl and Becca Revels. Both have worked with the dancers in previous Dancing with the Stars competitions and say the key to success is for the dancers to enjoy themselves. That begins with choosing music they are comfortable with, they said.
“This is their chance to perform and be in the spotlight,” Diehl said. “I always tell them to relax and just have fun.”
Sandra Oliver, the former executive director of the United Way, is the coordinator for the event that originated during her term as executive director.
“This is the fifth year for Dancing with the Stars and the other four have been a tremendous success,” she told the dancers. “I’ve never talked to anyone who has been involved with this event that has not said it was a great experience.”
The previous four events have raised about $518,000. Each dancer is asked to raise at least $5,000.
“They are making a huge commitment to the county and putting in a lot of time to put on a good show,” said Oliver.
Dancing with the Robeson County Stars was not held this year as United Way of Robeson County transitioned to new leadership under Executive Director Latricia Freeman. Officials also said that they were afraid if the event were held too often, it would lose its popularity. Instead, a Lip Sync competition is being held at the Carolina Civic Center in October.
Last year’s event, held at the Southeastern North Carolina Agricultural Center, raised about $131,000. Andrew Bullard and Simmons, the youngest couple, raised the most money, $29,970.
Oliver said that while it may appear early to be pairing dancers for a show that is not being held until March, doing so gives the dancers plenty of time to learn their routines as well as raise money. She said a website, including dancer profiles and offering a chance for people to cast their votes for their favorite dancers, is expected to be up by October.
Bob Shiles can be reached at 910-416-5165.