Dancers Star For AYFS

by | Feb 3, 2014

For the fifth consecutive year,  nine brave Auburn standouts paired with Sally McDermott dance instructors to compete for best of Auburn bragging rights and to support Auburn Youth and Family Services.

This year’s event drew over 400 attendees for the eagerly anticipated competition.  Event organizers estimate the function raised around $20,000 for AYFS.


Dancing With the Stars – Auburn 2014 edition had an international theme, drawing inspiration from the upcoming Winter Olympics.  Appropriately, the event was again held at Motorsports International on Rt. 20.  Thrifty Car Rental, which is housed in the same building, also allowed the use of their space to host the dancing.   Flags from nine nations hung from the rafters, representing the nine themes portrayed by the competing couples.

Joe Hurley, recently retired after 26 years teaching at Auburn High, served as the master of ceremonies.  The hilarious and effervescent Hurley did a terrific job warming the crowd and providing entertaining commentary throughout the evening.

For the first time, Dancing With the Stars alumnus were welcomed back and provided the opening act.  The alumni entered stage left and the alumnae IMG_9378– along with the Sally McDermott instructor corps – entered stage right, each waving various nations’ flags.  Following the “opening ceremony”, the men and women each performed separate choreographed routines in a sort of ‘battle of the sexes’ format.  

After acknowledgements of the many, many people whose tireless efforts make the annual Dancing event possible, opening remarks from AYFS executive director Sally D’Arcangelo, and introduction of the five judges, the main event was ready to roll.

This year, each couple represented a country.  They designed costumes and choreographed their dance numbers to reflect their selection, resulting in some creative outfits.

The couples spent over two months learning and perfecting their routines, a commitment that did not go unnoticed during Sally D’Arcangelo’s opening remarks.  With the big night finally here, the excitement in the room was palatable.

At the end of the evening, the gold, silver and bronze medal winners were decided:

Gold Medal – Ralph Capaldi and Nadine Zona

Silver MedalJeff Berg and Megan Berg

Bronze MedalAdam LaFlash and Megan McDermott

Although it’s cliche, we’re going to say it anyway: all of the participants are champions.  Their time and commitment to benefit AYFS, and ultimately the hundreds of families served by the agency, is worthy of gold medals all around.

The complete list of competitors for 2014:

Owen Russell – Central One Credit Union, Branch Manager & Auburn Rotary Club, President paired with SMDC Dance Instructor, Carrie Callahan

Kim Norris – Pakachoag School, Guidance Counselor paired with Arthur Murray Dance Instructor, Ben Champagne

Adam Burney – Town of Auburn, Director of Development and Inspectional Services paired with SMDC Dance Instructor, Kat Damian

Corey Handfield – EMC, Supervisor and Pop Warner, President paired with SMDC Dance Instructor, Caitlin Foley

Jeff Berg – Auburn High School , Science Teacher paired with SMDC Dance Instructor, Megan Berg

Ralph Capaldi – Novo Nordisk Pharmaceuticals paired with SMDC Dance Instructor, Nadine Zona

George Scobie – Auburn School Committee member paired with SMDC Dance Instructor, Michelle Duclos

Matt Watson – Auburn Middle School, History Teacher paired with SMDC Dance Instructor, Sarah Nugent

Adam LaFlash – Auburn Fire Department Firefighter paired with SMDC Dance Instructor, Megan McDermott

The judges for this year’s event were:

Karen Blais – Millbury Federal Credit Union, Assistant Branch Manager

Nick Antanavica – Town of Auburn, Building Commissioner

Paul Mackintire – NStar

Sean Sullivan – Auburn Middle School, History Teacher