"Dancing with the Docs" exceeds expectations
FORT MYERS - Southwest Florida doctors and their supporters made a big splash for charity Sunday night at the first ever "Dancing With The Docs" gala in Fort Myers.
And organizers are already looking to recruit doctors who dance in next year's event.
"Dancing with the Docs" was organized by the Jewish Federation of Lee and Charlotte counties and proceeds went to Jewish Family Services.
Fox 4 anchor Patrick Nolan hosted the inaugural event at the Crowne Plaza hotel in Fort Myers.
The event was similar to the hit show "Dancing with the Stars" and featured local physicians paired with professional dance instructors from the Fred Astaire dance studio in Fort Myers.
The owners of the Fred Astaire studio, Theo and Ganine Derleth arranged for each doctor to get personalized lessons in the weeks leading up to the event.
They also worked with a designer to make sure the costumes match each performer's personality.
The staff of Red Salon did the impressive hairstyling and make-up for the performers.
Audience members were the "judges" and selected the winner with their votes.
Each audience member got a ballot with their tickets. And they could buy additional votes for $1 each.
"This is the cheapest you'll ever be able to buy a vote in Florida," quipped Nolan as he explained the voting process.
As the votes were tallied, Patrick told the audience the owners of Fred Astaire dance studio in Fort Myers are offering a free lesson to anyone in the audience who wants to stop by the business on US 41 near Crystal Drive.
The event organizers said they were already recruiting doctors for next year's gala.
The owners of Fred Astaire said anyone interested should choose their instructor now since their dance cards fill up later in the year - especially during season.
When all the votes were counted, Patrick made the big annoucement.
The winner was Dr. Lowell Hart who danced a Paso Doble to "Right Round" by FloRida with instructor Ganine Derleth.
Dr. Konnie Yankopolus received the second most votes after dancing an American Rumba to "Unbreak My Heart" by Il Divo with instructor Jessica Hicks.
Dr. Amy Wecker placed third with her instructor, Michael Dressler after they danced a West Coast Swing to "I am the Body Beautiful" by Salt 'n Pepa.
Wecker and Dressler barely edged out the fourth place finishers, Dr. Lynee Einbinder and instructor Theo Derleth, by just one vote. They Danced the Foxtrot and Cha Cha to "Fever" by Eva Cassidy and "Fever" by Kylie Minogue.
A number of other doctors also took to the dance floor - bringing the crowd to its feet time after time.
Dr. Tatianna Reynolds danced a mambo to "Michaela" with instructor David Flory.
Dr. Anne McNamara danced an American Cha Cha to "What Doesn't Kill You" by Kelly Clarkson with instructor Russell Perkins.
Dr. Peter Denk danced a Tango to "Whatever Lola Wants" by Sarah Vaughn with instructor Carly Goellner.
Dr. Steven Moss danced an American Cha Cha to "Turn Me On" by Nicki Minaj with instructor Ashley Montoya.
Dr. Richard Bloy danced the Hustle to "Easy Lover" by Phill Collins with Romanian-born instructor Ioana Piscu.
Dr. Bloy lost 20 pounds in a month training for the charity compeititon.
Patrick told the audience he knew first hand how much work went into such an event.
He and professional dancer, Kristi And Castrogiovani (formerly of Rhytym In Motion dance studio) garnered the most votes at a similar event a few years ago.
They danced a rumba to the song "Cuban Pete" at the Make A Wish Foundation's "Dancing With Our Stars" charity competition at Sanibel Harbour Resort in 2007.
Patrick also emcee'd the Make a Wish event in 2009 and 2010.
The Dancig with the Docs gala sold out days before the big event.
It was standing room only by the dancers took the floor Sunday night.
Organizers say the money raised will go a long way in improving the quality of life for Southwest Florida families struggling through challenging times.
If you're interested in participating in "Dancing the Docs" next year, call Naomi Rubin at the Jewsih Federal at (239) 481-4449, extension #3 or Theo & Ganine Derleth at Fred Astaire at (239) 939-1517 go to http://dancingwithdocs.com/