It may have been cloudy and damp outside last Sunday evening, but the stars were shining bight at The Sickle Cell Disease Association, Philadelphia/Delaware Valley 4th Annual Dancing with the Philadelphia Stars. The fundraiser featured the dynamic dancing skills of nine distinguished Philadelphians. They shifted gears and put on their dancing shoes to raise awareness of sickle cell disease at The Crystal Tea Room in Center City.
“The purpose of Dancing with the Philadelphia Stars is to assist in raising money to fund sickle cell education and programs and shine the spotlight on a genetic disease that exists in staggeringly high numbers in the African-American and Hispanic communities,” said Sickle Cell Disease Association, Philadelphia/Delaware Valley executive director Stanley A. Simpkins. “Often called the ‘forgotten disease,’ sickle cell disease affects one out of every 500 African Americans, and approximately 80,000 individuals. One out of every 10–12 African Americans are carriers of the sickle cell trait, and approximately 2.5 million Americans.”
The spirited competitors were: Councilwoman Marian B. Tasco; Julie Dorenbos, co-owner of Skin Palette and wife of Philadelphia Eagle Jon Dorenbos; Marisa Magnatta, associate producer of 93.3WMMR’s Preston & Steve Morning Show; Anastasia Karloutsos, co-owner of Water Works Restaurant; Nina Tinari, partner at T2 Consultants LLC and former special assistant to Governor Ed Rendell; Kharisma McIlwaine, CW Philly/CBS3 reporter; Michael Days, managing editor of The Philadelphia Inquirer; Eric Cortes, marketing and promotions coordinator/producer for Telemundo – Philadelphia; and Kevin Gatto, owner of Verde Salon.
Hundreds looked on with delight as contestants superbly danced the fast paced Paso Doble, elegant fox trot and other dances to benefit Sickle Cell Disease Association, Philadelphia/Delaware Valley. A glowing Councilwoman Tasco, in red taffeta, and her partner Nodari Tetruashvily celebrated first place victory performing a perfectly saucy cha-cha.
“Many years ago, I belonged to a social club in which two members had sickle cell anemia,” said Tasco. “The mother of the two members, Mrs. Julia Davis, was an advocate for finding a cure. My commitment to the cause began in the mid-1960s when our club sponsored fundraisers for people with sickle cell and in hopes of finding a cure. I also have family who are affected by the disease. It has greatest effects on the African-American community, but it seems that finding a cure took a back seat when HIV became more prevalent in our communities. That is why I am passionate about this cause and this event and am thrilled to participate and increase its awareness.”
Michael Days did a fantastic job performing the samba with partner Shana Vitoff. Days said, “I love to dance, but I am way out of my comfort zone participating in a ballroom dancing competition. But I couldn’t say no to this very worthwhile event that raises both money and awareness for sickle cell management and programming. This disease is not widely understood. I think we should all be willing to get out of our comfort zones for an essential purpose.”
Have a fabulous week, everyone. I look forward to seeing you “Out & About.” Thank you for all of your wonderful birthday wishes!