Game Changer Boca’s Ballroom Battle Raises Big Bucks For Scholarships

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By: Dale King Contributing Writer

Boca’s Ballroom Battle, the annual “Dancing with the Stars”-style terpsichorean challenge that raises money for the George Snow Scholarship Fund, marked its 10th anniversary this year by setting individual and overall records for donations, according to figures compiled from the Aug. 18 event, held, again, at the Boca Raton Resort & Club.

The final total for the evening of dance, raffles, food and fun that’s part of annual Boca Festival Days sponsored by the Greater Boca Raton Chamber of Commerce, is still being tallied, said Debi Feiler, vice president of program services for the fund. But she did note: “This year’s event far exceeded our expectations and broke last year’s record number by substantially more than $100,000.”

Dancers last year raised $325,000.

Eight community leaders were chosen weeks ago to display their dancing prowess during the main portion of the “Battle.”  Top money raisers among the dancers were Terry Fedele, who collected $124,000, and John Tolbert, whose tally of $193,000 set a new individual record for the 10-year-old competition.

Terry has been a community volunteer in western Pennsylvania and in South Florida for the past 30 years. She routinely draws upon her experience as both a nurse and hospital executive in her volunteer activities. Her husband, Jerry Fedele, is president and CEO of Boca Raton Regional Hospital.

Tolbert might have had a home field advantage in the Ballroom Battle. He is president and managing director of the Boca Raton Resort & Club, where the evening’s festivities were held.  John is a leader in the hospitality industry, with extensive management experience and operational capabilities. He was president of sales and marketing for the Blackstone Group, which bought the Boca Resort a decade or so ago. It was during that time that he launched the LXR brand of luxury hotels.

More than 700 people attended the August soiree that’s become one of the Boca Festival’s most popular and beneficial programs.

Earlier this year, the George Snow Scholarship Fund awarded just over a million dollars in scholarships and scholar support services to 87 young men and women who needed financial assistance to further their educations.

During the Ballroom Battle, community participants were paired with professionals from the Fred Astaire Dance Studio of Boca Raton. The contest hopefuls received a series of lessons to perfect their routines before they competed for the winning mirror ball trophies at the cocktail reception and dance showcase that included cocktails, hors d’oeuvres and raffles.

Crowds of fans, friends and backers for each dancer crowded around tables in the Resort’s ballroom to cheer on their favorites.

The theme for the night was “Dreams Do Come True.” Terry Fedele danced with James Brann to “Feeling Good” by Michael Buble. Derek Morrel tripped the light fantastic with Loreta Kriksciukaityte to the song, “Running on a Dream” by Tom Petty.

Elizabeth Murdoch Titcomb displayed her dance ability by performing with Aleksandr Skarlato to Smashmouth’s cover of the Monkees’ hit, “I’m a Believer.” Tolbert hit the floor with Sayra Vazquez Brann, and the pair danced up a storm to the song, “King of Wishful Thinking” by Go West.

Heather Shaw partnered with James Brann and danced to Madonna’s “Like a Prayer.” Jim Dunn slipped on his dancin’ shoes and, joined by Kriksciukaityte, took a whirl to Stevie Wonder’s “I Wish.”

Lisa Kornstein Kaufman showed the crowd her dance acumen, performing with Skarlato to Rachel Platten’s “Stand by you.”  Logan Skees, the youngest of the community dancers at age 25, let the audience see that he knew his stuff.  He joined Sayra Vazquez Brann for a zip around the floor to “Dream On” by screamin’ Steven Tyler and Aerosmith.

Once the dancing was over, Rochard Moricette, a Snow scholar and now a second-year agribusiness student at Florida A&M University, told how receiving a scholarship changed his life.

Co-chairs of this year’s event were Peter Gary and Stacey Packer, both former dance contestants. Paige Kornblue, an anchor at WPTV NewsChannel 5 in West Palm Beach, and Glenn Glazer, morning meteorologist at NewsChannel 5, were again the emcees.