Before I get into the meat of this column I need to tell y’all a little story about something that I observed on Sunday afternoon.

My buddy Blake and I went to get dinner at Church’s Chicken and while walking into the restaurant we noticed that a car was parked smack-dab in the middle of two parking spaces.

We go inside and a lady is at the counter ordering. Immediately I could tell she wasn’t happy. The employee speaking to her was doing so in a very calm, respectful tone. Suddenly the lady yells at the guy “Well I’ll tell you this, I am NOT paying $12 for TWO PEOPLE to eat...at least not CHICKEN anyway” and then she storms out of the restaurant.

We watch her go out to her car (which was the one with the awful parking job), she talks to somebody on the phone and then comes back in like nothing happened. She waits her turn and then proceeds to order $20 worth of food.

I found this interesting because Church’s — like most other restaurants — has their prices clearly marked next to each item. So it’s not like you don’t know what you’re gonna pay for the food you order. And on top of that, why yell at the employee? He didn’t set the price. And he doesn’t have the power to change it.

But anyway, that’s neither here nor there.

We’re here to talk about this year’s Rome Celebrity Dance Challenge. As many readers know it’s an annual fundraiser for the Sexual Assault Center and it’s honestly one of the most fun and entertaining events on the Rome social calendar.

First of all, the Patron’s Party was a lot of fun. This is where the people who could afford to pay $75 for a ticket got to eat and drink and rub elbows with other fancy people before the actual event. I got a free ticket which is the only reason I was there. I got to chat with members of Rome high society including Rusty and Sally Williams, Michele and Dustin Rikard, Brandon and Erin Elrod, Chris and Ginger Shelly, Diane Warner, Rita Smith, Tim and Stephanie Burkhalter, Cindy Stansell, Tini Kastis, Crystal Byars, and Matt and Tonya Plant just to name a few.

I actually like to mention people at these events because either individually or through their businesses, these people purchased tickets and that money goes directly to the Sexual Assault Center. So simply by attending, they’re supporting the cause.

A couple suggestions for next year’s Patron’s Party: I think they need less big tables and more high-tops. Also, there were no knives to cut the food with. But other than that, the food was great and the party is the perfect way to start the evening.

The hosts for the event were Danny Price and Chris Parker. Those guys are hilarious. They kept the audience laughing with little bits and jokes throughout the show. Even RN-T editor John Bailey’s young sons were crackin’ up. They referred to Danny and Chris as “the smart one” and “the one who said bad things about Severo.”

Even though I’m obviously a classically trained dancer, having graduated from the Jim Beam School of Contemporary Dance, I’m not gonna sit here and pick these routines apart. However, here are some highlights...

Robert Smyth danced with his daughter Carolyn to open the show and it was great to see their relationship play out in their routine. It was very sweet.

I was pleasantly surprised by how well Emily and Bryan Johnson did. I guess I expected them to be all stiff and lawyer-y but they did a fantastic job.

Rebekah Kinney seems like one of the sweetest, kindest people in the world. She’s a great dancer and had a big smile on her face throughout her routine.

Y’all Colin Powell has got some dang moves. He’s in real estate but the man can dance.

Devon Smyth, along with partner Dicie Waters, put on a very sweet performance. Their throw-back costumes reminded me of “Rosie the Riveter” and that was really cool.

Rob Byars and Madison Brinson performed one of the most entertaining routines of the entire night. They danced to a medley from the movie ‘Grease’ and EVERYONE of a certain age was singing along and moving in their seats during this routine. I absolutely loved it.

Dr. Shelby Moore of Culbreth Carr Watson Animal Clinic looked fantastic in a red fringe dress. She and her partner did a jazzy “Chicago” inspired routine. Very fun to watch.

Ok let me say that Hannah Camacho (who was the pro dancing with Brad Roberson) is one of the most graceful human beings I have ever witnessed. She’s a swan. When she’s dancing, you’re absolutely captivated. I know Brad was the celeb and he was doing a great job but Hannah steals the show every time. She is poetry in motion and these dancers (all the pros) don’t get enough credit for the time and talent they bring to this event.

Lewis Byrne won the judge’s choice award for his performance with partner Tara Ogle. Lewis let it all out once that music started. He was having so much fun playing to the audience. The crowd got into it and were cheering and clapping along to the number.

I would have liked to see a contestant group dance at the beginning of the show. I feel like it helps kick off the event in a fun way and from experience I know the group dance is a bonding experience for the celebs who may not know each other since they all practice individually on different schedules.

Last but not least, I have to mention the members of law enforcement and the fire department who showed up for the event. From the Patron’s Party to the main event, these men and women helped in a variety of ways. It was especially cool to see the fire fighters line the back of the auditorium during the performances. After Brad Roberson’s dance, they all put on their firefighter equipment and collected money for the SAC. It was a very cool moment.

If you’re never been to the show, you gotta go next year. You’re sure to be entertained and I bet you’ll know someone dancing.

Thank you to the staff at the Sexual Assault Center for putting on the event, and to the dancers for their time and effort. And of course to the community for supporting the event which benefits vitally important work in Rome and Floyd County.

Severo Avila is features editor for the Rome News-Tribune

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