Celebrity dancers announced for 2016 Star Dancing Gala

Amy Coyer.
Special to the Daily |

If you go …

What: “Launch the Future,” the 2016 Star Dancing Gala to benefit YouthPower365.

When: Thursday, July 14.

Where: Vail Valley Jet Center, 871 Cooley Mesa Road, Gypsum.

More information: Voting opened Friday for the dancers, and the public can support dancers by casting votes of $1 or more at

AVON — Each year, the Eagle Valley’s brightest and boldest are selected as celebrity dancers to take the stage at the Star Dancing Gala. The event puts local celebrities on stage with professional dancers to create a dazzling fundraiser for the Vail Valley Foundation’s YouthPower365, which serves more than 4,000 youth in Eagle County.

This year’s dancers take the stage Thursday, July 14, at the Vail Valley Jet Center, but they’ve already begun rehearsals with their dance partners. Voting opened Friday for the dancers at vote.stardancing The event promises to be one of the most adventurous of the event’s eight-year history. With the theme “Launch the Future,” YouthPower365 will be taking the audience on a starry adventure with fleet-footed personalities, all brought together under one roof to benefit YouthPower365.

“In 2016, not only are we launching our new name — YouthPower365 — but we’re also launching a renewed commitment to the young people of this valley,” said Melisa Rewold-Thuon, vice president YouthPower365. “When this community comes together to support YouthPower365 and our work with Eagle County school district, we can raise math and reading proficiency levels, increase teacher pay and make a measurable, positive impact on the future of this community.

“Now, we launch our commitment to increase the availability of our programming so that we can provide enhanced after-school and summer education to every child who seeks it, in every public school in Eagle County, year-round.”

This year’s master of ceremonies is district 33 Colorado State Sen. Michael Johnston. Johnston is a Vail native who, before becoming senator, 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 Obama.

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Johnston holds degrees from Yale College, the Harvard Graduate School of Education and the 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.”

“We all know the Vail Valley for its great people and incredible outdoor recreation,” Johnston said. “Thanks to YouthPower365, the Eagle County school district and education leaders throughout the valley, Eagle County is now poised to become one of the great success stories in Colorado education. It’s an honor to come home to host the Star Dancing Gala — not only one of the most important education fundraisers in the region, but also the most enjoyable night of the summer.”

Johnston will be bringing a talented corps of dancers to the stage. The celebrity dancers are Amy Coyer, Donna Giordano, Mike Glass, Alex Hyde, Kathi Jones, Josiah Middaugh, Stacey Sapp and Harvey Simpson, as well as dancers from Celebrate the Beat and the Vail Performing Arts Academy. The professional dancers are Maria Barry, Morgan Flahive-Foro, Reason Galt and Colin Meiring, who will also serve as the artistic director of the event.

“I have three goals to get out of this competition, including embarrassing my kids, impressing my wife and raising money for a good cause,” said Middaugh, who is an Xterra World Champion triathlete. “This will be an entirely different type of challenge for me, and I will be completely out of my element. This community has been so good to me and my family, and I am thrilled to be able to give back at some level. As father of three school-aged children, I can directly see the positive impact that YouthPower365 has on kids.”

The public can support all of the dancers by casting votes of $1 or more at

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