Photo courtesy of Lindsey Hart Photography: Grand Champion 2nd Helene Reeser and Erich Cawalla.

The Yocum Institute for Arts Education celebrated the 10th anniversary of their popular fundraising event, Dancing with the Reading Stars, on Saturday at Stokesay Castle in Lower Alsace Township.

Inspired by the hit television show, the annual event showcases “stars” representing Berks County’s diverse community at a fun-filled and inspiring evening.

The dance pairs dance and raise money to further Yocum’s mission to provide arts education throughout the county.

This year presented a very special opportunity. The Henry Family generously matching all donations, dollar-for-dollar, to help offset the loss of funds due to 2020’s cancelled event. Yocum’s programs directly impact more than 30,000 people each year.

Money raised through Dancing with the Reading Stars supports on-going operations, scholarships, productions, and many outreach programs – half of which are provided at little or no cost.

Photo courtesy of Lindsey Hart Photography:
Grand Champion 1st JR and Emilee Koch.

Eleven dance pairs participated this year, and each pair was excited for their live debut on Stokesay’s ballroom dance floor on Saturday, May 22.

This year’s star couples were: Shawn Barczynski and Nicole Vega; MaCherie Dunbar and Bethany Bower; Guy and Ryan Griffin- Silveri; Amy and Jason Hendrix; Holly James and Chris Madara; Emily and Dillon Kenniston Jmilee and JR Koch; Ginelle and Eric Miller; Kate Peires and Tim Greusel; Helene Reeser and Erich Cawalla; Ethan Blakeney and Emma Flammer our Exhibition Dancers.

Funding was raised through sponsorships, donations and votes for the dance pairs. Votes were cast in $10 increments.

Recognition is given for the “Fan Favorite,” “Virtual Fan Favorite,” and Grand Champions 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place based on the pairs who raise the most funds.

New this year, organizers also had the Comeback Kid Award which went to the dance pair who had the greatest increase in funding between today, May 7, and the end of the event on May 22.

Winners included: Audience Favorite – in-person: JR and Emilee Koch Audience Favorite – virtual: Guy and Ryan Griffin-Silveri Comeback Kid Award: Helene Reeser and Erich Cawalla Grand Champion 3rd : MaCherie Dunbar and Bethany Bower Grand Champion 2nd: Helene Reeser and Erich Cawalla Grand Champion 1st: JR and Emilee Koch

The dance pairs were able to raise over $92,000 to further Yocum’s mission to provide arts education throughout the county. The Henry Family matched all donations, dollar-for-dollar plus an additional $38,000 to bring our grand total to $222,000.

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