And the winners are……. CASA and the children it serves

By Donna Lueke
The trophies for the Dancing for CASA competition on Saturday evening at the Camp Perry Conference Center went to Bert Fall and his dance professional partner Mary Ann Snider and to Jackie Bird and her dance professional partner Timothy Nyman.

Fall, of WPCR Radio, and Snider, of The Ballet School of Port Clinton, delighted the crowd of more than 200 with a tap dance, a first for the five years of the “Dancing with the Stars”-style event. It was particularly remarkable because Fall had never tap danced before beginning rehearsals for the competition. The three-judge panel of Debbie Hymore-Tester, Kim Dusseau and Tracy Gaines rewarded Fall and Snider with a perfect score of three 10’s and the Judge’s Choice Trophy.
 Marblehead’s Mayor Bird and Nyman of Black Tie Dance Studios in Sandusky, resplendent in full 70’s hippie garb, danced to “Spirit in the Sky”, a song chosen for Bird by her late brother Tom. Bird dedicated her dance to Tom, who died suddenly on Oct. 21. Over $4,000 was raised by Bird and her supporters to take the Championship Trophy.
The six celebrity dancers combined to raise over $15,000 for CASA programs. In addition to Bird and Fall, stars from around Ottawa County who danced were Curt Cochran, Ottawa County Sheriff’s Deputy; Connie Moore of Davis Besse; Cole Hatfield, Port Clinton City Councilman; and Marie Wittman, Oak Harbor Middle School Principal.
The event was co-hosted by Judge Kathleen Giesler and former Sheriff Bob Bratton. It was an evening celebrating dance that began with a flash mob, led by Mary Ann Snider, made up of board members, former dancers and CASA volunteers ;  that included a dance tribute to active military and veterans by former Dancing for CASA champion Debbie Hymore-Tester and Craig Olszewski, USCG PSO 309, who just completed his third deployment; that also included a demonstration by the young dancers of One Love Dancers from Class A Studio in Oak Harbor; and that concluded with dancing for all.
The fund-raising evening also featured silent auctions, a 50/50 drawing and a live auction. Greg Pfeiffer of WPCR was auctioneer for the live auction and was assisted by County Commissioner Jim Sass. The first item auctioned was an impressive wooden toy train made and donated by Gary Barnhill of Marblehead. It brought a bid of $700 for CASA.
CASA stands for Court Appointed Special Advocates, specially trained volunteers who work with families and children identified through the courts as abused, neglected or dependent. These volunteers work to be the voice of the child in the courtroom. CASA is central to fulfilling society’s most fundamental obligation by making sure a qualified, compassionate adult will fight for and protect a child’s right to be safe, to be treated with dignity and respect and to learn and grow in the safe embrace of a loving family.
More photos from the event are in the home page photostream at

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