And They Danced… to Help Local Children Battling Cancer

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IMPERIAL — Local fund raising group Dancing for a Dream presented a night of opulence, fiery Latin dancing, fine culinary delights and a chance to finance families struggling with a child battling cancer – all Friday night at Cheval Farms in Imperial.

The annual fundraising gala is the brainchild of Angie Pena, Oscar Garcia and Marisela Bonillas who all experienced the pain of losing a loved one to the dreaded disease. Now in their fourth year, Dancing for a Dream’s elegantly dressed attendees packed the large tent, anticipating a night of entertainment.

Celebrity judges Hildy Carrillo, Fernanda Robles, and Renee Summerour were joined by a fourth judge, chosen after emcees Gene and Gloria Brister auctioned off the coveted seat for $1,300 that was won by Ignacio Gonzalez. Gonzalez gave his judging seat to Jay Goya as his proxy.

The stars of the evening were six couples who agreed to compete for their chosen child patient. Winners of the dance-off not only earned bragging rights, but a chance to see their represented child crowned king or queen of the night.

Although there would be only one winner, all six children shared equally in the proceeds from the event. The local children were chosen by agencies based on their needs and the stage of the cancer.

“Medicare doesn’t cover all of these families’ expenses,” said event coordinator Angie Pena. “There are meals away, transportation, babysitting costs for the other children, as parents struggle to travel with their child battling cancer. That is where we come in. Agencies let us know of a child in need, and we are there.”

The dancers for the evening were returning dancers Dr. George Fareed and Martha Alexander; Lisa Chapin Winkler and dance instructor, Jasiel Arballo; Lupita Moreno-Perez and dance instructor Angel Tim Zavala; Gabby Nixon and her husband, Jared; Joe Nunemacher and fiancé Johanna Rivera; and JP Magallanes and instructor, Angie Pena. Each had the pleasure to meet the child they represented, and many of the children attended and cheered on their benefactors.

Named as the dancers of the night were Lupita Moreno-Perez and her instructor, Angel Tim Zavala with their designated child, Armando Alexander Saavedra, 7, being crowned at the end of the competition.

Other children represented were Allison Weisskopf, 2, Alejandro Valenzuela, 15, Alondra Rubio, 9, Jesus Perez, 2, and Axel Perez, 4.

Other entertainment for the evening included musical numbers performed by Gene and Gloria Brister and Hawaiian musical group, Na Leo Aloha.