ST. CLOUD (WJON News) -- The Women's Fund of Central Minnesota recently announced this year's line-up for its annual Dancing With Our Stars fundraiser.

By now many of you know that I have been asked to be a part of the event as one of this year's 'Community Stars".

It is an exciting opportunity and I'm thrilled to finally be able to talk about it.  The Women's Fund selects the cast around October and then we're sworn to secrecy until they make the official announcement.

The first task I was given when I was asked to dance for the event was to find a local nonprofit organization that I wanted to raise money for.  The Women's Fund leaves the decision completely up to the six community stars, only asking that the charity's focus be on girls, women facing adversity, or elder women.

After giving it some thought, I put Quiet Oaks Hospice House in St. Cloud on my short list of nonprofits I wanted to consider, knowing this was probably a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for me I wanted to make sure I made the right decision for me.

Hospice care is something that I have become all too familiar with in recent years with both of my parents needing in-home hospice service at the end of their lives.  Watching these folks who I would describe as 'angels' take care of my mother and father in their final days was inspiring.  Since their passing, I have always thought if there was a way to give back to hospice I wanted to do it.

My dad Verlin passed away in January 2016 and my mom Barb passed away in November 2019.

Then this opportunity to fundraise for any charity of my choosing just happened to come along.

I scheduled a coffee date with Quiet Oaks Executive Director Linda Allen and we talked about a possible partnership and what it would look like.  I knew immediately after leaving that conversation that I had found my cause.

The work they are doing for people and families not only in our immediate area but throughout central Minnesota is wonderful and necessary.

At the time of my first meeting with Linda, I had never actually been to the Quiet Oaks house.  Since then I have been there for DWOS strategy meetings with Linda and her team, and my admiration for what they do has only grown.

In the next several months we'll be working hard to fundraise for Quiet Oaks Hospice House through the Dancing With Our Stars competition.

In early March each dancer will be given a specific donation page for their charity.

Of course, there's also the dancing component.  I have told my pro Lisa Lawson that this is the one time I will have a chance to do something like this, so I don't want to play it safe.  I let her know she could choreograph a challenging routine for us and I will put in the hours and the work over the next several months to nail it on the night of the event. In other words, let's go for it!

Sixty percent of our final score will be from fundraising and 40 percent of the final score is from how well we dance.

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Save the date and attend the event on Monday, June 10th at the College of St. Benedict in St. Joseph.


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