BOCA RATON, FL – As dancing feet high-stepped across the floor at the eighth annual Boca’s Ballroom Battle in late August, fundraising records were being shattered all around. When participants finished tripping the light fantastic, organizers tallied the total of cash collected by the happy hoofers.
The net total raised through the Aug. 28 event – drum roll, please – topped $324,000, outstripping the amount taken in at any of the previous seven dance competitions sponsored by the Greater Boca Raton Chamber of Commerce as part of its annual Festival Days.
Not only was the overall total a record-setter, so also was the amount raised by Donna Parlapiano, the top fundraiser among the female dancers. Senior vice president of Franchise Operations and Corporate Real Estate for AutoNation, Parlapiano raised $122,185.
Brian Altschuler was the top male fundraiser, collecting some $34,644. Executive director of Human Resource Operations at Boca Raton Regional Hospital, Altschuler dedicated his performance to his late partner, Ernie Borowsky, who passed away four years ago.
For the eighth year in a row, the big winner was the George Snow Scholarship Fund, a non-profit organization that provides college scholarships to graduates of high schools in Palm Beach County who need a financial boost to continue their educations.
Tim Snow, president of the fund created in honor of his father, uttered a single word – “incredible” – as the totals for the night were read. His voice could be heard over the din in the crowded dancing and dining hall at the Boca Raton Resort & Club.
The scholarship fund has received the proceeds from the event, patterned after the ABC television show, “Dancing with the Stars” for the past eight years. Eight community leaders are paired with professional dancers from the Fred Astaire Dance Studio here in Boca Raton. In pro-am style, the dance wannabes receive 15 dance lessons in preparation for the big, glitzy night that includes cocktails and food, a live auction and lots of cheering for the contestants.
Parlapiano set the winning pace with a Pharaoh-esque themed dance to the Bangles’ “Walk like an Egyptian.” She was paired with professional terpsichorean Kirill Hitroff for the bouncy number.
Brian Altschuler slowed the pace with a go-round to Michael Jackson’s “Man in the Mirror.” His partner was Anna Tabolina from the Astaire Studio.
Others who tore up the floor that night:
• Peg Anderson, also dancing with Kirill Hitroff, to Billy Joel’s “Uptown Girl.” • Chris Nichols, accompanied by Ashley Jones, practically set fire to the parquet with a hot number danced to Kenny Loggins’ “Danger Zone,” the theme from the movie “Top Gun.”
• Holly Meehan paired with James Brann for a feet-flying dance to “Footloose,” another movie theme written and sung by Kenny Loggins.
• Elias Janetis linked up with Sayra Vazquez for a dance to Survivor’s “Eye of the Tiger,” from the “Rocky” film series. One judge was inspired to dub the dance “a knockout performance.”
• Frank McKinney was all shook up, as he and Pam Casanave danced to “Shook me all Night” by AC/DC.
• Wendy Sadusky and partner Jacob Reide Jennings looked so fine, as they wrapped up the dance action with some well-turned steps to Tony Basil’s “Hey, Mickey.”
Judges were Marleen Forkas, Ingrid Fulmer, Bob Gittlin, Mike Kaufman and former Mayor Susan Whelchel, winner of Boca’s Ballroom Battle in 2008. Reporter Paige Kornblue and meteorologist Glenn Glazer from WPTV Channel 5 were emcees for the evening.