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Beginnings, Inc. and the Alternative Community Resource Program (ACRP) will host the Fifth Annual “Dancing Like a Star for Autism,” on Saturday, February 7, 2015, at the Pasquerilla Conference Center in downtown Johnstown. This year, the dancing teams will be utilizing the Community Foundation’s online donations tools for their fundraising.

Tickets for this event are $50 per person and tables of 8 can be reserved in advance. Seating is limited. Call 814-539-1919 to reserve seating. The cash bar and dinner buffet will begin at 6:30 p.m., but doors open at 6:00 for the newest component of the event, the “Art for Autism” gallery where you can participate in a silent auction of artistic donations in an array of mediums from local artists. Included in the auction will be artwork created by children with autism who participate in a program at ACRP facilitated by talented local artist, Kendra Pearl. This artwork includes oil paintings, pen & ink drawings, hand-crafted jewelry, and a small, handcrafted wooden blanket chest, to name but a few.

“This enables us to blend multiple forms of artistic expression into one wonderful event,” says Pearl. “Working with the students in ACRP’s autism school to create art has been a humbling experience for me.”

The dancing competition begins at 7:00 p.m. and will be hosted once again by Jim Penna as Master of Ceremonies. Dancing awards and auction winners will be announced at 9:00 p.m.

This event includes local community couples competing for trophies in two categories: a panel of judges will view and vote; and the audience will participate by voting for their “fan favorite.” Vote for your favorite team here!

This year’s panel of judges include Maestro Istvan Jaray, conductor of the Johnstown Symphony, Lyndsay Ward, news anchor from WJAC TV, Commissioner Thomas Chernisky and the Honorable Dwayne D. Woodruff, Allegheny County Judge and former Pittsburgh Steeler #49. Woodruff was drafted in May of 1979 as a defensive back. He went on to play 12 seasons with the Steelers, including playing in Super Bowl XIV as a rookie in 1980, being named Steelers MVP in 1982 and serving as team captain his final three seasons.

“We are pleased and honored that Judge Woodruff chose our event to attend and support,” said Paula Eppley-Newman, executive director of Beginnings, Inc. “Not only is he a well-recognized name in the Steeler Nation, we know he supports and wants to strengthen children and families (which is our agencies’ missions) due to his good work in the Juvenile and Family Court Division of the Allegheny County Courts. It’s a great fit for us all.”

Everyone in the community can participate in this event by voting for their favorite couple or dance group either by sending a $1/vote to Beginnings, Inc., 111 Market St., Johnstown, PA 15901 or by clicking here to vote for your favorite dance couple or team.

So far, the confirmed all-star lineup includes Georgette Suskie & Carlos Carrasco, Alexandrea & Jose Otero, Rachel & Gregory Zaborowski, Lauren Topor & Thomas Leap, Janice Yursky & Emilie Sprincz, Tappin Tootsies from LeDance Academie’ and Adrianna’s Arabian Jewels. Spotlight entertainment will be provided by Jim Donovan of Rusted Root fame and his percussion work with children on the autism spectrum.

Once the competition is over, that’s when the toe tapping fun really begins. DJ Randy from Bo Moore’s Music will be on hand to play the tunes you love to dance to until 11:00 pm. This is definitely an event you don’t want to miss.

“We are looking forward to the community being part of the excitement as our competitors strut their stuff on the dance floor to raise awareness of autism and the effect a child’s diagnosis can have on a family,” said Paula Eppley-Newman, Executive Director of Beginnings, Inc. “Having this joint fundraiser will enable our agencies to have a bigger impact with proceeds benefitting each agency’s autism programming.”

“We’re not looking for professional dancers, but community members with a desire to help the cause,” said Frank Janakovic, Executive Director of ACRP. “There is no cure for autism, but there are a number of proven treatments that can assist an individual and their families after a diagnosis.”

For more information about Dancing Like A Star for Autism, call 814-539-1919 or e-mail Paula Eppley-Newman.

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