You just thought Dancing with the Stars was over for the season when Nicole Scherzinger and Derek Hough won the mirrored-ball trophies. Wrong! Paws in the City held its own version and managed to jam all the fun, drama and glamour of the television show’s entire season into one night at the Frontiers of Flight Museum Saturday.
The evening began with a jam-packed reception with silent auction and available pooches for adoption on the sideline. One little, four-legged Lab mix was guest of honor despite a nasty looking back. Her name is Faith (pictured. Editor’s note: The photo is reduced dramatically because it’s pretty grim. If you would like to see it full blown, just click on the photo.) and she is recovering from someone pouring hot grease on her back. You’d never know if from her attitude. Throughout the evening she was a friend to all and the feeling was reciprocated as she made her way through the crowd.
Another critter in the reception was Spencer Nilsson (pictured). No, he’s not a pooch, but he’s typical of the many who are the secret to Paws in the City’s success. Spencer is a PITC volunteer and fosters pets until they find their “forever homes.” Checking the dogs up for adoption at the party, he owned up to having a beagle and presently fostering a Maine Coon. You know volunteers really love their work.
Following the reception, the 650 guests adjourned to the main hall where tables were so tightly in place that it’s a wonder the servers were able to squeeze through. Ah, the problem of having too many people supporting an event.
It was announced that the Wyly Medical Assistance Fund had issued a challenge — if $20,000 could be raised during the evening, the Fund would match it to provide money for animal medical treatment, boarding and training of animals.
We’ll tell you if they made it later.
But first Event Host Preston Pearson (pictured) took the stage. Now Preston is well-known for being one of the Dallas Cowboy legends. Time and time again, like so many of his fellow players, he has donated time, effort and money to causes throughout this area. But you may not realize that this incredible athlete has a very soft spot for animals. It’s largely because of a gal named “Lucy.” She was a dog that Preston’s son asked him to take care of while he was away. It was a match made in heaven.
“I fell in love with Lucy,” the Super Bowl winner said with pride. Then he told of her her death about four years ago and the inscription on her tombstone, “Lucy, A Friend to All.” It was at this point that Preston started tearing up. Regaining his composure, he said, “The animal lovers here understand what just happened.”
It was with this inspiration that Pearson partnered up with Paws in the City to hold the Dallas version of Dancing With The Stars.
With his emcee partner Scott Murray, Preston kicked off the evening’s entertainment with the introduction of the judges — Kellie Rasberry, Charles Haley and Claudia Marshall (pictured from left to right).
Then it was time for the celebrity dancers — Carly Patterson, Richard Chamberlain, Dee Lincoln, Michelle Witten, Garry Seith, Jocelyn White, Brendan Higgins and Kim Fischer — and their Arthur Murray professionals. Here’s a rundown of the performances:
Tall chef Richard (pictured) was the first to dance. After strutting through a country western medley with partner Adriann Alexander, someone in the crowd said: “He looks like he’s on Qualudes.” His wife said he was very nervous. One of the judges commented, “I hope he cooks better than he dances.” Poor Richard was the first to face the wrath of the mob. But he managed a smile as he strutted his stuff. Judges’ scores: 7 (Kelly), 5 (Charles), 7 (Claudia)
As KXAS-CH. 5’s Kim (pictured) took the stage with her partner Angelo Fachinelli, Scott informed the audience that the lady celebrities would be wearing outfits from the television version of DWTS. It’s doubtful anyone noticed Scott’s comments. Kim’s v-e-r-y revealing green spangled outfit not only was dazzling doing a cha-cha on the dance floor, it showcased a drop-dead figure. Former KXAS-Ch. 5 sportscaster Scott commented, “In 25 years at NBC5, I never saw a reporter that looked like this.” Judges’ scores: 9 (Kelly), 10 (Charles), 8 (Claudia)
Former KXAS-5 anchor Brendan (pictured) arrived with more than his dancing partner Bailey Kenzington. He also was backed up by his two young sons. Between his unusual combination of a swing/hip hop, tossing clothes around the dance floor and comments about “Claws in the City,” his scores placed him at the bottom of the competition. Ah, but Brendan has never been one to hold back on a word or two. He even admitted, “I think I forgot the swing part.” Judges’ scores: 7 (Kelly), 6 (Charles), 6 (Claudia)
In typical Dee (pictured) style, her performance was gangbusters with her partner Duce Roddick. Thanks to her costume, Dee’s legs had the crowd going as she danced a jitterbug to “Respect.” One person in the crowd hollered, “Look at those legs.” This comment was met with, “Legs up to here.” Judges’ scores: 8 (Kelly), 9 (Charles), 8 (Claudia)
Olympian gymnast Carly’s (pictured) costume (worn by Cheryl Burke in Season 3 with Emmitt Smith) was less revealing and with good reason. Doing the Lindy Hop with Paul Rodriguez, Carly did jumps and turns that would have put a lesser costume to a real challenge. Judge Charles commented that Carly is a “jock at heart.” Judges’ scores 10 (Kelly), 10 (Charles), 10 (Claudia)
KTVT-CH. 11 meteorologist/Midwesterner Garry (pictured) tackled the tango with partner Sarah Dantes with flair that hadn’t been seen on stage so far. It earned some of the most interesting comments from the onstage crew. Preston said, “For a guy coming from cold weather, that was pretty darn hot.” Judge Kelly smiled that killer Rasberry smile, “Channel 11? As long as you wear those pants, I’ll watch every time.” Following that remark without losing a beat, Scott added that Garry “gives new meaning to the term, ‘warm front.'” Judge Claudia chimed in with, “Like Kelly, now I’m interested in weather.” Judges’ score: 10 (Kelly), 8 (Charles), 9 (Claudia)
Television sweetheart Jocelyn (pictured), who is also on the board of the SPCA, lookede very inch a showgirl in her costume and neat figure. Doing a cha cha-rumba with Ian Kelley, she showed absolutely no fear in her performance. Amazing when she revealed afterwards that she had never danced before and had been quite hesitant, but for the sake of the animals, she did it. (BTW, she has two rescue Pugs — Walter Cronkite and Ayn Rand). Judges’ scores: 7 (Kelly), 7 Charles), 8 (Claudia)
Final performer/wife of Dallas Cowboy Jason Witten, Michelle (pictured) arrived on stage looking like an adorable version of Sarah Jessica Parker in an incredible flesh-colored, form-fitting dress with crystal beading and feather borders. Dancing the swing to “Think” with partner James Gonzalez, she had the entire room roaring with shouts and applause. Nearly out of breath (and with very good reason), she told Scott that the Dallas Cowboys Women’s Association last week raised $105K for the SPCA. Judges’ scores: 10 (Kellie), 10 (Charles), 10 (Claudia)
Then it was time for the entire audience of 650 guests to vote. While the votes were being tallied, Holly Forsythe (pictured) was presented with The St. Francis of Assisi Award for all the work she has done for the various animal causes. Earlier in the evening, Ms. Holly, in her Abi Ferrin gown, seemed a little baffled about being honored. You get the feeling that Holly is oblivious that anyone would do things differently in helping save animals. Not surprising when you realize that she’s been rescuing critters since she was 10.
Also honored were the PITC Honorees. These are organizations, companies and facilities that have been literal lifesavers for PITC by housing and working with the rescued animals until they are adopted. The honorees included Parking Hound Village, Toothacres Pet Care Center, Kinder Kritter, Tailwaggers Country Inn, Wuf Pet Resort & Spa, Urban Paws, Boarding Bungalow and Bikerdogz Training Academy.
Then the dancers were put out of their suffering and the winner was announced. Brought on stage was last year’s winner Laura Phillips (pictured with a 30-lb. lighter husband Wade Phillips). Despite a close vote, The Lucy Award went to Michelle. Jocelyn almost seemed as happy as Michelle upon hearing the announcement.
Preston looking out at the audience spotted Jason and said, “Now you’ve got an objective. She’s a super winner; now you need a Super Bowl.” And the crowd went wild.
And speaking of the crowd, since the theme was “Fly Back to the Fabulous 50’s,” certain folks really took advantage of the opportunity to be nostalgic. Always gorgeous Diane Johnson and husband Daryl (he must be on the same diet plan that Coach Phillips is on) came ala Grease attire. OK, so Moose (pictured with Diane) took some ribbing from others for coming in costume, but of all the guests he looked the most comfortable.
And then there was the Buddy Holly couple — Bonnie and John Wells. Bonnie (pictured with John) laughed saying that John’s “Buddy look” was a natural since the glasses were John’s and not a costume accessory. Please note Bonnie’s bobby sox and saddle oxfords. Everyone was so lucky.
Andrea Alcorn in poodle skirt was challenged just to walk in her high heels. Why the heels (pictured) when a saddle oxford would have been fine? If you looked carefully, you saw that dice and poker chips were free-falling in the doles of the see-through stilettos.
And while they weren’t in 50’s attire, Amy and Jim Severson (pictured) looked like they should have been sharing a malt. After Jim’s very successful battle with cancer, this couple values their achievement and were all smiles.
And speaking of cute moments, Jason hesitated from approaching the stage after all the hoop-la was over. It was Michelle’s moment and the 6’5″ tight end didn’t want to upstage his extremely petite wife. But eventually he was coaxed on stage and was busting with pride. As he and Michelle compared notes, Michelle’s partner James (pictured with from the left Jason and Michelle) stepped aside seamlessly and sought out Laurie Phillips for a spin around the dance floor, while a beaming Wade watched.
It was definitely a night when the headline-making football crew were more than pleased to step back to let their better halves shine in the spotlight.
And if you’re waiting to hear if PITC matched the Wyly challenge, you’re going to have to wait because the bean-counting elves are burning up their calculators to come up with the final number. You know we’ll update you when we hear.
BTW, Preston, we suspect that Lucy is mighty proud of her best friend.