Local stars learn to dance for benefit of children, Butterfly House

By Marina Shankle, for the SNAP

Stanly County locals Cindy Thompson, Jeremy Forsythe and Joel Laster have banded together to form a dance trio for this year’s Stanly County Dancing with the Stars.
The members of this trio have a couple of things in common.
One: All three of them work at the Stanly County YMCA in some capacity, either full-time or part-time.
Two: None of them has any prior experience with dance.
“None of us has ever danced before,” Forsythe said.
Each of them has been a spectator of the event or has known someone who participated in the event, but this year, they are taking part themselves.
“When a friend was unable to dance this year and asked me to take her spot, I jumped at the chance,” Thompson said. “I have very little dance experience, but that didn’t stop me. My friends who have danced in prior years always seemed to have so much fun, and I think it’s a great cause, so why not?”
The trio decided to call their group Team Y Not Us, based on their mutual responses of, “Why not?” and their work at the YMCA.
To learn some dance moves and come up with their routine, they enlisted the aid of veteran Dancing with the Stars choreographer and participant Laura Almond.
“Laura’s been really good at finding ways to make us dancers. She’s been incredibly patient with us,” Thompson said. “The great thing about this team is that we’re willing to give anything a try, so it has come together quickly.”
Thompson described their routine as a fun, high-energy Paso Doble.
All three dancers agree that learning how to dance has been a positive experience.
“It’s been a lot of fun,” Forsythe said. “Kind of nerve-wracking, but it’s been a good experience out of my comfort zone.”
Laster said he has enjoyed the knowledge he has gained from learning the dance.
“You learn about the strength of endurance,” he said.
Having known each other before practicing for the event, the team enjoys a good laugh and having fun while experimenting with dance moves.
“I’ve started a quote list of the funny stuff said during practices,” Thompson said. “At the end of this, I want to remember that. We laugh more than we dance sometimes.”
While they are having fun and learning new dance steps, the trio also focuses on the cause behind the dance — the Butterfly House, Stanly County’s child advocacy center.
“All three of us have kids,” Thompson said. “We really enjoy being part of something for kids.
“The number of children and families served by the Butterfly House is staggering. It’s unfortunate that we have such a great need for the services the Butterfly House provides, but those services are invaluable to the ones who need them. I continue to be amazed by how the staff responds to the families affected by abuse and violence.”
One element of the Dancing with the Stars competition is fundraising for the Butterfly House.
“We have a swim fundraiser in the works, and we’re working on a pickleball tournament,” Thompson said.
Plans for the swimming fundraiser, to be held at the YMCA, include a winter holiday theme, games and sweet treats.
Team Y Not Us is looking forward to taking the stage in the main event.
“We’ll have fun with it and do what we can to help out,” Laster said. “We may not win, but we will be brave in the attempt.”
Thompson said she hopes the audience will appreciate the fun and energy of their routine.
“It’s completely out of our comfort zones, so I’m looking forward to letting people see that side of us,” she said.
The annual Stanly County Dancing with the Stars event will take place at 7 p.m. Sept. 8 at the Stanly County Agri-Civic Center.
Tickets are $30 for mezzanine seating and $20 for balcony seating and can be purchased through the Stanly Health Foundation at 980-323-4103 or at Starnes Jewelers, 127 Main St., Albemarle.
For more information about the event, visit stanlydancingstars.com.

Marina Shankle is a freelance contributor for The Stanly News & Press.