On Saturday, Nov. 9, DC's Dancing Stars Gala will host its sixth annual charity fundraiser.
DC's Dancing Stars Gala is fundraising event that mirrors the glitz and glamour of the hit ABC TV show, Dancing with the Stars. The Gala showcases local celebrities & corporate leaders competing for the mirror-ball trophy and $10,000 for the charity of the winner’s choice.
DC's Dancing Stars Gala will bring together local members of the DMV community to generate hundreds of thousands of dollars to support local charities.
Now in its sixth year, the organization has selected six charity beneficiaries including: The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, Jennifer Bush-Lawson Foundation, Raymond A. Wood Foundation, Make-A-Wish of the Mid-Atlantic, Operation Renewed Hope Foundation and a Scholarship Fund for Marymount University.
Over the last five years, the gala has contributed over $1.3 M to local charities such as the Chantilly-based A Forever-Home Rescue Foundation.
Seven local celebrities will be competing in the 2019 Celebrity Challenge; contestants include Mike Manatos, president of the Manatos & Manatos lobbying firm and Chairman of the Board for Make-A-Wish of the Mid-Atlantic. Manatos’ wife, former Fox 5 News anchor Laura Evans, was a celebrity contestant last year, winning 2nd place overall in the competition.
Manatos says he met his wife through the Make-A-Wish Foundation, the charity he will be representing this year. “We met through the Make-A-Wish Triathalon,” he says. “Our second date was actually a Make-A-Wish Foundation wish-granting, which made it very special.”
Manatos’ ties to the DC area date back to 1936, when his Greek grandfather moved to DC from Wyoming and later worked as a Senate liaison during the Kennedy administration.
“There has been a Manatos continuously working in this area for the last 84 years,” Manatos says.
Manatos’ dancing skills have also come a long way.
“I knew a little about Greek dancing,” he says, “but I knew nothing about ballroom dancing when I first agreed to enter this year’s competition.”
However, that was 12 lessons ago, and Manatos says he is now ready to win.
“It’s ingenious how DC’s Dancing Stars gets you to participate,” Manatos said. “The first two dancing lessons are free, and then for every $1,000 you raise for your charity, you get another free lesson.”
Manatos has so far raised in excess of $70,000 for the Make-A-Wish Foundation, and hopes to add the competition’s $10,000 first prize to that amount.
“For over two decades Mike Manatos has been a dedicated and inspiring member of the Make-A-Wish Mid-Atlantic family,” said Tara Wilson-Jones, Vice President of Marketing and Communications for Make-A-Wish Mid-Atlantic. “We are so grateful for his impact on our organization and the lives of countless local wish children and their families.”
This year’s celebrity guests will include Will Thomas, an Emmy-award-winning veteran news anchor, and Manatos’ wife, who will serve as co-hosts. The celebrity judges will be Chelsie Hightower, a professional dancer and choreographer from Dancing with the Stars, Larry Michael, the “Voice of the Washington Redskins” and Darren Haynes, of WUSA9. Haynes who competed in the 2018 Celebrity Challenge and won the Judge’s Choice Award for his outstanding Michael Jackson/Prince medley, has been invited back to participate in the Gala to judge this year’s competitors, bringing his unique insider knowledge to bear.
“This event raises awareness and funds for many important local charities whose work and resources benefit our community greatly. It is an extraordinarily unique and exciting Gala where guest tell us repeatedly that it is the most fun fundraiser they have ever been too,” says Gala Co-founder and Chair Maria Coakley David. “Dancing is something most people want to be good at, but few take the time to learn and enjoy the craft. I think the audience really admires and even envy’s these brave participants’ guts and talent”. For more information, go to: www.dcsdancingstarsgala.com