The seventh annual Dancing with the Stars of Mentoring made history for the Rhode Island Mentoring Partnership (RIMP), as they entertained a record number of 570 guests at Rhodes on the Pawtuxet Thursday night.
While funds are still being counted, RIMP President and COO Jo-Ann Schofield is optimistic the agency will surpass last year’s all-time fundraising total of $85,000.
“I’m so ecstatic,” Schofield said. “Our dancers collectively raised $26,000 [during the ‘Peoples’ Choice’ portion of the competition] with our wonderful Maggie Hayes-Cote raising $9,000 of that amount.”
“Celebrity” dancer and Warwick resident Hayes-Cote, who also made history at the event by becoming the first star to win both the “Peoples’ Choice” award and “Judges’ Choice” award, is happy she was able to help.
“I feel very blessed to be able to bring that to the organization,” she said. “It’s a worthy cause.”
The judges, including past performer and winner of the “Judges’ Choice” award Patty Koch, professional ballroom dancer at Arthur Murray Dance Studio in Worcester, Gary Jacobik, and RIMP board member Shameen Awan, described it as a “smooth and elegant” performance.
But Hayes-Cote, the assistant general counsel to Textron Financial Corp., gives all the credit to her professional dance partner Ryan Burniston, who helped her steal the show with their foxtrot to “Singing in the Rain.” They gracefully performed their number with umbrellas and raincoats as props.
“My partner worked so hard to help me to have that look at great as it did,” said Hayes-Cote, noting that Kathy St. Jean, a co-owner of Dancin’ Feelin’, also offered her a lot of guidance. “I’m so pleased.”
She also expressed gratitude to her family and friends, as well as Textron, for their support.
“I was very grateful to be able to get that response from folks,” she said. “Overall, it was a great experience and I would do it again. It’s a lot of fun.”
Another Warwick resident and “celebrity” dancer won an award. Bruce Perreault of Oceanstate Financial Services, who has been a mentor in the past, won “Most Entertaining” for his cha-cha to Pitbull’s “Don’t Stop the Party” with professional dancer Deborah O’Donnell.
Six other “celebrity” dancers and their professional dance partners shined on the dance floor.
Funds raised go toward recruiting, screening and training mentors, plus making sure quality mentoring is taking place throughout the state, as RIMP is an umbrella for more than 40 mentoring programs and is responsible for the coordination of school-based mentoring programs in Warwick, Woonsocket, Newport, Middletown and Burrillville. More than 4,500 mentors serve nearly 6,000 Rhode Island children ranging in grades K through 12.