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'Dancing for the Stars' benefits Boys and Girls Club

The Boys and Girls Club of the Bemidji Area held "Dancing for the Stars," an annual dinner and fundraiser at the Hampton Inn Conference Center. The event was an evening of food and entertainment thanking sponsors that gave support throughout the ...

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Fourth graders Taija Cunningham, right, and Alexis Baker, left, celebrate with a piece of cake at Dancing for the Stars on Thursday at the Hampton Inn Conference Center. Ben Karkela | Pioneer Photo

The Boys and Girls Club of the Bemidji Area held "Dancing for the Stars," an annual dinner and fundraiser at the Hampton Inn Conference Center.

The event was an evening of food and entertainment thanking sponsors that gave support throughout the year. The Boys and Girls Club provides year-round programs that serve over 500 youth ages 6-18.

A social hour and silent auction kicked off the evening, giving attendees a chance to bid on donated items.

One popular item at the auction was a Philadelphia Flyers jersey signed by former Bemidji State men's hockey captain Matt Read. The NHL rookie sent the sent the jersey to the auction himself in support of the Boys and Girls Club.

During the program, Evelyn Bauer gave a heartfelt speech about the positive influence the Boys and Girls Club provided for her son, Manny and herself.

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Resource Development Director Andrea Ohnstad then introduced Boys and Girls Club members. The members then performed a choreographed dance, the Cupid Shuffle.

Fourth grade members Alexis Baker, Taija Cunningham and Willow Damar attended the fundraiser and took part in the dance.

The three girls attend J.W. Smith Elementary School together and they all spend time at the Boys and Girls Club after school.

Baker said she attends the Boys and Girls Club almost every day. She likes to meet her friends there and her favorite part is the library.

"It's fun," Baker said. "It's a really special place to go."

Cunningham goes to the Boys and Girls Club 3-4 times a week.

"My specialty is the computer lab," Cunningham said. "It's fun to hang out with your friends there, too."

Damar proudly proclaimed there is no place else she's rather be.

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"It's the best place ever," Damar said.

Unfortunately for Damar, basketball and other after school activities demand time out of her schedule, so she can only visit the Boys and Girls Club once a week on Friday.

After the program ended, local Bemidji folk rock group Good Noise performed and audience members joined Boys and Girls Club members on the dance floor.

The gala was put together by a Special Events Committee consisting of 10 volunteers that put in hundreds of hours of planning and preparation.

"We're so appreciative of the community for coming out and supporting us," Ohnstad said. "We wanted to have a fun event and we couldn't have done it without the special events committee."

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