Dancing stars shine in record-breaking Hearts for Hope fundraiser

DANCING lisa josh mayor shwed trophy

The Dancing with the Stars team of Lisa Horsey and Josh Wharton raised the most money in Saturday’s fundraising competition at the Hearts for Hope Dinner Dance/Auction. At right is Laurel Mayor John Shwed, president of the Laurel Community Foundation, which operates Hope House I & II.


LAUREL – No doubt about it, the 2015 Hearts for Hope Dinner Dance was entertaining -and one for the record book.

Attendance was a first-ever sellout and a record amount of money was raised through ticket sales, auction items and fundraising dance competition during Saturday night’s event that benefits the non-profit Laurel Community Foundation’s two temporary/transitional housing facilities – Hope House I & II.

DANCING robert lee penny short posed

Sussex County Sheriff Robert T. Lee and Penny Short of Nanticoke Health Services were among the dance teams in the Dancing with the Stars.


In fact, nearly $12,000 was generated by Dancing with the Stars fundraising alone. That amount – not counting ticket revenue, auction proceeds or sponsor donations – surpassed the entire amount raised at any previous Hearts for Hope events.

“The total I am looking at here is greater than we have actually made on the entire project in times past,” said Master of Ceremonies Dennis O’Neal in announcing the Dancing with the Stars winner. “We estimate the money gathered on the dancing alone – just the dancing – was $11,983. That is far and beyond any record that we had before.”

“We’ve taken this thing to a whole new level,” said John Shwed, Mayor of Laurel and president of the Laurel Community Foundation, which operates and maintains the two Hope House facilities.

As he boldly predicted in fun-filled chatter on social media, Josh Wharton and his dance partner Lisa Horsey drew the most fundraising support – there were over 350 attendees and each received one free vote; additional votes were $1 apiece. Monetarily, they outpolled five other teams to claim the coveted Dancing with the Stars trophy.

DANCING tim dottie dukes

State Rep. Tim Dukes and his wife Dottie perform their entertaining Dancing with the Stars routine at Saturday night’s Hearts for Hope benefit.


“It was a lot of fun, of course,” said Mr. Wharton, a member of the Good Ole Boys Foundation. “I mean really, there are no losers here tonight. We’re all winners and the Town of Laurel came out in full force. It was really nice to see.”

“I think it was my partner,” said Ms. Horsey, when asked the key to their “victory.” “We had a lot of fun learning the routine.”

Also in the spotlight on the dance floor at the Laurel Fire Hall: State Rep. Tim Dukes, R-Laurel, and his wife Dottie; Sussex County Sheriff Robert T. Lee and Penny Short (Chief Operating Officer and Chief Nursing Officer at Nanticoke Health Services); Jonathan and Kari Souder; Wayne and Janice Phillips and Laurel Intermediate/Middle School’s “Evolution of Dance” quartet of Nicole Ingley, Kelly Lloyd, Deanna Burton and Brandon Noelte.

“After the final tally tonight, there are no losers,” said Mr. Wharton. “It really doesn’t matter who wins here. You guys are all winners.”

Ms. Horsey said that not only is the Hearts for Hope a fun event, it helps raise awareness to community need.

“I think we need more awareness,” she said.

Hope House provides transitional housing for homeless families. The annual operating budget is approximately $30,000. LCF’s Hope House receives no state or federal funding, and therefore banks on community support, including that of Sussex County Council, donations and fundraisers.

Saturday’s event should go a long way in helping to reach that amount.

My Turn to Cook Catering prepared the buffet dinner and DJ Bob Hughes provided music for listening and dancing.

News Editor Glenn Rolfe can be reached at grolfe@newszap.com

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