Residents support nonprofits through Dancing with the Johnson County Stars

With a step, a slide, a pivot and a spin, eight local residents shine the spotlight on local nonprofits in need.

This select group has been practicing their tango, jitterbug and jive for months as the next generation of Dancing With the Johnson County Stars contestants.

The annual fundraiser is back for another round on the dance floor. The dancers rehearsed their moves throughout the year while raising funds to help the nonprofit of their choice.

All of their hard work culminates in a two-night extravaganza on August 12 and 13 at the Historic Artcraft Theater.

“It’s heartwarming to see the community supporting this,” said event organizer Barb Miller. “It almost brings tears to your eyes.”

Participants have the opportunity to raise thousands of dollars for organizations they are passionate about. The competition has brought in a total of $3.1 million over eight years, including $1.6 million last year.

At the same time, they can sensitize the groups

“I am so honored to be able to participate in this event because I help ASSIST Indiana meet their financial needs and raise awareness,” said Natalie Hendrix-Evans, one of the dancers at this year’s event. . “I have helped support several friends over the years through their experiences with violence and it is important to me that ASSIST Indiana has the funds to help communities in Johnson County.”

Hendrix-Evans is an avid dancer in the community, in addition to being a longtime supporter of ASSIST Indiana. She heard about Dancing with the Johnson County Stars last year and pledged to compete one day.

“When I saw it, I thought to myself that I would be ready to do it one day when the opportunity presented itself,” she said in an email. “I thought this was a really cool way to raise money for nonprofits in Johnson County, different from the usual fundraisers you hear about, and I’m passionate about dancing.”

Raising funds for ASSIST Indiana, a nonprofit organization that provides resources, support, and counseling to immediate victims of sexual violence in addition to loved ones of affected victims, is Hendrix-Evans’ primary goal. . But the event also allows him to raise awareness in another way. She was born deaf, but has been dancing at Five Star Dance Studio in Greenwood since 2014. She wants to use her own experience to show the value of artistic expression.

“I hope to make people understand that deaf people don’t need to hear to dance. I love dancing as a way to express myself without limits,” she said in an email.

ASSIST Indiana is one of eight organizations represented in this year’s Dancing with the Johnson County Stars. Included are a mix of former participants, such as Humane Society of Johnson County, Rest & Restore Ministries, Dog Tags, and Youth Connections, as well as new nonprofits. Bridges Alliance of Johnson County, the Good Cheer Fund and Turning Point Domestic Violence Services are all starters this year.

Carol Phipps has been involved with Bridges Alliance since its inception and has been touched by how it helps people in the community escape poverty. When the group asked her to help them raise funds through Dancing with the Johnson County Stars, she felt honored to do so.

The experience exceeded his expectations.

“I realized that ordinary people can do extraordinary things. Seeing the donations we have collected is amazing,” she said in an email. “One of the passages from one of my favorite poems is: “Think big and your actions will grow, think small and you will fall behind; think you can, you will, it’s all in your mindset.

Each agency is responsible for raising funds for its cause, planning fundraisers large and small throughout the summer months. To be included in the competition, organizations must serve the entire county, have a strong volunteer base and a committed board of directors, Miller said.

Michele Lee, director of community services for Turning Point in Johnson County, is dancing for her organization this year. She has supported Dancing with the Johnson County Stars in the past, and when she changed roles to be with Turning Point earlier this year, she was given the opportunity to dance for the agency.

“I had been involved with a different agency for the past seven years. I have always loved what he represents. Barb works diligently to mentor these agencies, help them fundraise and create awareness for their agency,” she said.

This aspect was particularly appealing to Lee, who discovered when she started at Turning Point that few people in the entire county knew about the organization.

“It’s another element of my coming out and raising awareness and awareness in the community that Turning Point is there,” she said. “What better way to do that than with Dancing with the Stars and introducing myself as a dancer?”

Dancing with the Johnson County Stars was created by Miller in 2014 to play off the popularity of the hit TV show “Dancing with the Stars”. She had seen other similar events in central Indiana and thought it would be a good way to raise money to support organizations in the area.

The event is a platform for small nonprofits to participate in a major event without financial risk, Miller said. Event sponsors pay all event costs – printing, venue, dance lessons, etc. Agencies and their dancers fundraise and keep all funds they raise.

With the contest format, fundraising could help multiple nonprofits at the same time, rather than going to a single agency.

“It’s helped a lot of smaller nonprofits that haven’t had a lot of fundraising experience to learn how to do it,” Miller said. “During that first year, I heard people say, ‘I didn’t know that’, about fundraising. the whole point of it all was to be an incubator – to teach people how to fish, not to give them fish.

In the first year of the event, participants raised over $180,000 combined for their individual groups. This number has increased year over year, including the record high of $1.6 million reached in 2021. Much of this amount came from dollars made available due to the COVID-19 pandemic after the cancellation of the contest in 2020, Miller said.

Each dancer is invited to raise $5,000 on their own for the agency they represent. Whoever lifts the most is named the Most Valuable Dancer at the event. The coveted Mirror Ball trophy is awarded to the agency and dancer who raises the most money, Miller said.

For the two-night dance event, hundreds of people come to cheer on their friends and families. These people come away with a great understanding of the important work that participating nonprofits do in the community, Miller said.

“One of the most important things, almost more than money, is getting people to know their organization. There are so many nonprofits, and they’re all doing great work, but so many people don’t know anything about them,” she said.


Dancing with the Stars of Johnson County

What: A dance competition featuring community members representing and raising funds for seven local organizations.

When: 7 p.m. on August 12 and 13

Where: Historic Artcraft Theater, 57 N. Main St., Franklin

Tickets: Friday Preview — adults $10, children under 12 $5; Saturday main event — adults $30, children $10 (including refreshments). Tickets are available at the Artcraft Theater, through any of the participating agencies and by calling 317-409-0908.

Dancers and agencies:

  • Tom Sprague – Rest and Restoration Ministries
  • Jesse Spurlling – Humane Society of Johnson County
  • Jill Napier — Youth Connections
  • Carol Phipps – Johnson County Bridge Alliance
  • Natalie Hendrix-Evans—ASSIST Indiana
  • Shoshanah Riley — Dog Tag
  • Freddie Waters—Good Cheer Fund
  • Michele Lee – Turning Point Domestic Violence Services

Information and tickets: or

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