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Dancing with the Big Stars Results

Dancing with the Big Stars (DWTBS) has brought a countless number of people together on Saturday, November 15 to raise money and awareness for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Mercer, Auglaize, and Van Wert Counties (BBBS). The first time ever event recruited “stars” including marketing managers, police officers, superintendents, and everyone in between to not only raise money on behalf of BBBS but perform on the dance floor at the Overdrive in front of more than five hundred community members.

When the idea of the event came about, a list of professional dancers and star dancers was formed. Some of the dancers will tell you they were begged or forced into the event, while others will tell you they enjoy dancing and it is for a great cause. Now that everything is all over, all the dancers agree that it was an awesome experience and they are so glad they did it.

“This is the first time our agency has done an event like this. It was a huge risk to put this much time and effort into something without knowing the outcome,” stated Abby Balster, Executive Director of BBBS. “We are so glad we did. The community was very supportive of our dancers and their fundraising efforts.”

Before the event even started the dancers had already raised over $5,000. Balster says that the amount of funds that came in throughout the day was astounding. Over $7,000 was collected in just a few hours.

“The goal of Big Brothers Big Sisters was to raise $10,000 for youth mentoring, and we surpassed that by another $10,000. So in total we raised over $20,000 for kids in Mercer, Auglaize, & Van Wert counties,” expressed Balster.

Jeff Knapke (star) and Janessa Schwieterman (professional) were busy fundraising and asking family and friends to support their efforts. All their hard work paid off in the end, as they went home with the Big Star Award, for raising the most money for BBBS. They were able to raise over $3,500 as a couple.

The judges, Jane Diller, Lucy Staugler, and Eric Wellman, also had their work cut out for them that evening as well. All the dancers brought their “A” game. It was such a tough decision that the Judges’ Choice Award ended in a tie. Shelly Vaughn (star) and Ron Rindler (professional) and Pete Lisi (star) and Ashley Etzkorn (professional) both had the exact same score from the judges. Both couples received the Judges’ Choice Award for their tremendous performance.

“We cannot express our thanks enough to all of those who donated or helped to make this event a huge success,” said Balster. “We are so glad there are businesses like F1 Sound, Romer’s Catering, Anew You, Visions, G D Garman Photography, and Mr. Shoppe that helped to make this event happen. “

If you would like to “see” or remember this event, you are able to order a DVD for $10. Call 419-394-2990 or send a check with your name and phone number by November 30 to place your order.

The ultimate goal of this fundraiser was to help youth in the community. BBBS will be using the money to match the 35 children on their waiting list with a Big and to support all five of their youth mentoring programs. For more information about becoming a Big or enrolling a child contact BBBS at 419-394-2990 or by e-mail at

Big Brothers Big Sisters Presents Dancing with the BIG Stars

There is no other place to be on Saturday, November 15 than at the Overdrive, located at 3769 U.S. 127, Celina, OH 45822, for the Big Brothers Big Sisters Dancing with the BIG Stars event! This event is based off of the popular TV show, Dancing with the Stars. A group of prominent community members from throughout the area will put on their “boogie shoes” and test their newly learned dancing skills with their experienced dance partners. These dancers are putting their heart and soul into dancing and raising funds for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Mercer, Auglaize, & Van Wert Counties. Each of the celebrity dancers and their experienced dance partners will compete twice on Saturday, November 15 at the Overdrive during an afternoon matinee performance starting at 12:30 p.m. and an evening dinner performance starting at 5:00 p.m..
The 2014 cast includes Abby Balster (Executive Director, Big Brothers Big Sisters) dancing with Steve Hartwig, Pat Green (Detective, Wapakoneta Police Department) dancing with Jessica Welker, Rex Katterheinrich (Administrator, Village of New Knoxville) dancing with Kelly Hawk, Jeff Knapke (Manager Sales/Marketing, VersaPak) dancing with Janessa Schwieterman, Pete Lisi (Fundraising Representative) dancing with Ashley Etzkorn, Ambyr Rose (Morning Show Host, New Country 92.1 The Frog) dancing with Zach Ferrall, Andy Schwieterman (Realtor, BeeGee Realty) dancing with Lisa Grunden, and Shelly Vaughn (Superintendent, Ft. Recovery Schools) dancing with Ron Rindler. The professional dancers represent several dance studios throughout our servicing area, including: Dancer by Gina, The Dance Centre, En Pointe Dance Studio, and Wagner Ballroom Dance Studio.
Dancers will be taking lessons, rehearsing their dances and soliciting funds over the next few months. Fans can vote NOW for their favorite community dancer at or at the BBBS office located at 204 E. Spring St., St. Marys. Every vote is a $5 donation to BBBS. The BIG Star Award will be announced at the dinner performance and is based on the celebrity dancer that raises the most money on behalf of Big Brothers Big Sisters. In addition, a Judge’s Choice Award will be given to the couple that has the best dance performance based on the judges’ critiques. The night’s featured judges are Lucy Staugler, Eric Wellman, and Jane Diller.
Tickets are still available if you would like to be a member of the audience for this event, and each dinner ticket includes a catered dinner in addition to the performance. There are only Bronze Level tickets left for $30 each for the dinner show; the Gold Level and Silver Level are SOLD OUT. The matinee performance includes snacks and a beverage. These tickets are $20 per person and are sold on a first come first serve basis. Dancer voting ballots, ticket information, and event information about Dancing with the BIG Stars can be found on the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Mercer, Auglaize, & Van Wert Counties website at All votes are tax deductible. Proceeds from the event will benefit Big Brothers Big Sisters of Mercer, Auglaize, & Van Wert Counties’ ongoing efforts to make a difference in your community, one child at a time.

Big Brothers Big Sisters Tees Off for Youth Mentoring

Big Brothers Big Sisters had a perfect day to host its 19th Annual Golf for Kids’ Sake Event on Friday, July 25, 2014 at the Mercer County Elks Golf Course. There were over 80 golfers that participated in the event. This was all made possible with help of several sponsors including the event sponsor Katterhenry Investment Group. The event was also largely sponsored by Thieman Tailgates, The Marsh Foundation, Kohl’s Cares, Jim Christman – Realtor for Coldwell Banker Plus One, TruPointe, and Schwieterman Custom Body Shop. Not only did the golfers have a great time by they also helped to raise over $8,000 for the organization.

“This has been our best Golf for Kids’ Sake event in years. We had more golfers, teams, sponsors, and volunteers to help us reach our goal!” stated Executive Director, Abby Balster. “We would like to congratulate our 1st Place Winners – Thieman Tailgates, Kohl’s Cares, and a team of ladies – Pam Vossler, Holly Makley, Amy Burke, and Deb Hemmert.”

Several companies sponsored teams, holes, carts, or made in-kind donations. In addition, the golfers had a chance to win $10,000, thanks to Grand Lake Eye Care for sponsoring all our Hole-in-One Prizes again this year. Proceeds supported the numerous youth mentoring programs offered to children facing adversity in Mercer, Auglaize, and Van Wert Counties.

For more information about how you can help Big Brothers Big Sisters by phone at 419-394-2990 or e-mail at We are always looking for volunteers to mentor the 30 youth on our waiting list. Keep your eye for our next fundraising event: Dancing with the Big Stars, coming to the Overdrive on November, 15, 2014.

A True Veterans Day Story

Carlos LejFollowing a series of meetings at the Big Brothers Big Sisters national office in Dallas, Carlos Lejnieks, president and CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Essex, Hudson & Union Counties, was headed back to Newark, N.J. this Veterans Day weekend. Carlos and his fellow passengers were travelling in unique company.

A flight attendant announced that among the passengers on the flight sat five soldiers en route home following a six-month tour of duty in Afghanistan. They were returning to their families and loved ones. Read more →