Chuck Madson, a director with Coast Valley Substance Abuse Treatment Centers, acknowledged that he might lack some of the key qualities shared by elite dancers.
“I have no rhythm or experience,” he said.
At least one of those assessments will no longer be true after this weekend.
Madson is one of six local “celebrities” who will strut their stuff Saturday in the second Dance Lompoc, a “Dancing With the Stars”-style fundraiser hosted by the Lompoc Valley Chamber of Commerce. The event, in which each contestant raises money for the chamber and a charity of their choosing, is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. at the Anderson Recreation Center, 125 W. Walnut Ave.
The event will include dinner catered by Central Coast Specialty Foods, wine and beer for purchase, a silent auction and seating for 200. Tickets, which are $55 per person, are available at the chamber office at 111 South I St. or online at lompoc.com. VIP tickets, which include prime seating and a listing as a co-host in the event program, are $65 per person.
Considering his self-admitted lack of dance talent, Madson said he wasn’t exactly on board right away when he was approached by a chamber representative and asked to participate.
“I was figuring out a way to say 'No,' when my wife insisted I must do it,” he said. “As with anything else I do, it’s an opportunity to give back, she reminded me.”
Madson, who chose to support the Boys and Girls Club with his flamenco routine, won’t be the only person stepping out of his or her comfort zone.
Joining him in the competition for the title of Lompoc Valley Star will be Lompoc Fire Chief Gerald Kuras, Lompoc Police Capt. Deanna Clement, Hancock College Superintendent/President Kevin Walthers, Lompoc Grocery Outlet co-owner Alix Crocker and Stacy Lowthorp, a co-owner of South Side Coffee Co.
Like Madson, Kuras was also self-deprecating when assessing his own dance talents, or lack thereof.
“I’m no dancer,” he said with a laugh, just five days ahead of the competition. “I’ve been trying to avoid dancing with my wife forever. But, (the chamber) called me and asked me if I’d do it, and I just thought it’d be a pretty good opportunity to reach the public and support a good cause.”
Kuras, who will be performing a tap routine, will dance in support of Fire-Velo Cycling Club, a national organization that supports various firefighter-related causes. Kuras said the Dec. 6 cancer-related death of former Lompoc Fire Chief Linual White Jr. inspired him to choose Fire-Velo Cycling, which also raises money and awareness to combat cancers that disproportionately affect firefighters.
“I thought this would be a great opportunity to honor the chief and kind of get to know the community better,” Kuras said.
Clement, who will be performing a salsa routine, said this was also her first experience preparing for a formal dance performance. She praised her coach, Laura Garcia, for being patient and said she expects plenty of support Saturday night.
“I have gotten plenty of comments, encouragement and plenty of teasing from family, friends and co-workers,” said Clement, who will be supporting Hats for Hope, an organization that provides wigs to cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy. “All are very excited for the event.”
Danielle Honea, a communications and program director with the Lompoc Chamber, said that a rivalry might be developing between Clement and Lowthorp.
“Stacy said she was in it to win it and has just gone full throttle,” Honea said, laughing. “When I told Capt. Clement about that, she was like, ‘Oh, is that right?’ So it’s been a neat, sweet competitive spirit through the dancers.”
Other charities being supported by the dancers include the Lompoc Theatre Project, chosen by Lowthorp; The Hancock Promise, chosen by Walthers; and Shadow’s Fund, picked by Crocker.
Amber Wilson, CEO of the Lompoc Chamber, said she was thrilled to see the event come together.
“This is the chamber’s biggest fundraiser of the year and it’s exciting to see how dedicated our celebrity dancers are, and how committed they are to raising funds for such worthy causes,” she said.
Honea said she was particularly pleased to have what she believes is a strong roster of dancers and coaches. Among the local dance studios represented by the trainers are Boscutti Ballet Theatre, The Alley Project and Garcia Dance Studio.
“We’re excited and humbled by the lineup,” Honea said. “This is a great group of people and they’ve all been super energetic and enthusiastic, and also the instructors have been really phenomenal, as well. They’ve been working really early hours to accommodate this.”
In one of the changes this year from last year’s inaugural event, each of the participating dance studios will also showcase an exhibition dance performance to show off the talents of some of their respective students and instructors.
As for the competition itself, the contestants didn’t seem to have much interest in making predictions.
“I am just hoping to make it through it,” Madson said.
While Clement acknowledged that she’s a competitive person and said she’d love to win, she added, “I am not sure my dance talents will get me there.”
“I am counting on the generosity of supporters to help me bring home the mirror ball when I raise a lot of money for Hats for Hope,” she said.
Although Kuras said he’s “scared to death” about performing Saturday, he admitted that he was looking forward to the event.
“It’s been fun,” he said of the rehearsals and lead-up to the competition. “I’m just trying to have fun with it. It’s kind of exciting, but I’m also nervous about it.”
If nothing else, he said the experience may make for a memorable time with his wife — and new tap shoes — when they visit Texas next month for a relative’s wedding.
“Maybe we can dance at the wedding with my new skills,” he said.