Celebrity dancers announced for 2017 Star Dancing Gala, July 18 | VailDaily.com

Celebrity dancers announced for 2017 Star Dancing Gala, July 18

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GYPSUM — The Vail Valley is a destination for many thousands around the world, but what about the thousands of young people who grow up here? What destinations await them in their future?

The highly anticipated Star Dancing Gala is back Tuesday, July 18, at the Vail Valley Jet Center, as host YouthPower365 explores a colorful, imaginative and dream-filled world inspired by Dr. Seuss' book "Oh the Places You'll Go."

"Every Eagle County child has a world of possibility in front of them, and it's inspiring to think about all the places they'll go as they grow up, explore and contribute to the world around them," said YouthPower365 Executive Director Melisa Rewold-Thuon. "With this year's theme, we'll celebrate the wide range of possibilities we create for our kids when we come together as a community each year at the Star Dancing Gala."

This year's celebrity dancers are as colorful as the theme: Betsy Kogan, Josh Lautenberg, Sheldon Andrew, Meredith Kennedy, Brian Maurer, Michele Philippon, Marc Philippon, Jr., Agatha Precourt and Harvey Simpson will grace the stage at the event that celebrates and supports the successful public-private partnership between YouthPower365, which provides extended learning opportunities for more than 4,200 young people, and all of Eagle County Schools.

Support the Cause

The dancers are already hard at work rehearsing — and also raising money to help support YouthPower365's mission to provide extended learning year-round that inspires, educates and empowers the youth and families of Eagle County from cradle to career.

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The public can support the cause by supporting the dancers with votes of $10 or more at vote.stardancinggala.com.

This year's event also will once again feature Sen. Mike Johnston as emcee. Johnston is a Vail native who, before becoming a state senator for District 33, spent six years as a high school principal, wrote a book about his experience as a Teach For America corps member in Mississippi titled "In the Deep Heart's Core" and served as a senior education advisor to President Barack Obama. He holds degrees from Yale College, the Harvard Graduate School of Education and Yale Law School and was named to Time Magazine's list of "40 Under 40 Political Leaders" and Forbes' list of "America's Seven Most Influential Educators."

He's also now a 2018 gubernatorial candidate for the State of Colorado.

"I love coming back to Eagle County for the Star Dancing Gala and doing what I can to support this phenomenal effort led by YouthPower365," Johnston said. "It's an event that shows what can happen when a community comes together, no matter their background or preferred politics, to support programming that's proven to improve the well-being of young people. It also happens to be one of the most entertaining events of the year."

Challenge Accepted

Perhaps no one will be working harder in preparation for this year's event than the 90-year-old Simpson, who plans to show he can light up the dance floor with all the verve and vigor of a teenager.

"I have an advantage: I have a dance club in my living room," said Simpson, who is a permanent resident of the Sonnenalp Hotel in Vail, where he is known to initiate impromptu late-night rehearsal sessions. Introduced to the Vail Valley Foundation's YouthPower365 by late friend Steve Fossett, Simpson said he is dedicated to supporting the next generation.

Even with his built-in advantage, Simpson has a corps of dancers lined up to dazzle and entertain the audience when the Star Dancing Gala gets under way Tuesday, July 18.

Learn more about the dancers and support their cause at http://www.stardancinggala.com.

Save the date …

What: “Oh the Places We’ll Go,” YouthPower365’s 2017 Star Dancing Gala.

When: 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, July 18.

Where: Vail Valley Jet Center

Cost: Individual tickets are $275; sponsorship opportunities available.

More information: Visit http://www.stardancinggala.com.

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