Dancing with the Upstate's Stars: The 2014 Oxygen Ball

It's billed as the Upstate's version of "Dancing with the Stars," except in this case, the stars are five local celebrities, and they'll be cutting a rug to help in the fight against lung disease in this year's "Upstate Dancing with the Stars" Oxygen Ball.

Taking place on Friday, March 14 from 7-11 p.m. at the Hilton Greenville, the Oxygen Ball is the Upstate's largest fundraiser for the South Carolina branch of the American Lung Association, and this year's event promises to be a memorable one.

How does it work?

Leading up the event, each of the five celebrities has been taking lessons once a week from the American Dance Club. Each will partner with a professional dancer, and compete at the Oxygen Ball for the mirror ball trophy. Whichever team receives the most votes, wins, and votes are determined from donations online prior to the event and through ticket votes at the event.

This year's celebrities are:

  • Laura Ringo, Executive Director at Spartanburg-based nonprofit, Partners for Active Living
  • Jennifer Chew, Management Supervisor for Erwin Penland and President of FemCity Greenville
  • Fred Griffith, actor and native of Spartanburg, best known for his role in the hit television series, 24.
  • Edward Burton, Administrator of Alpha Health and Rehab of Greer
  • Hope Blackly, Spartanburg County Clerk of Court

In addition to the celebrities competing out on the dance floor, professional dancer and choreographer Lindley Mayer, who has worked on the television show GLEE as well as last year's Academy Awards, will be giving a special performance.

Another highlight of the Oxygen Ball will be an Alumni Celebrity Dancer performance by Dr. Karen Thomas of Greer Chiropractic. This year's event will also honor the late Keisha Kirkland, former Board Member and Celebrity Dancer and will feature guest speaker, former NFL player Chris Draft.

As for the cause supported by this fundraiser, the statistics speak for themselves.

Lung cancer affects more than 370,000 Americans each year. Asthma among children is responsible for 14 million missed school days each year. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is the third leading cause of death in the U.S. With numbers like that, the importance of the work done by an organization like the American Lung Association is indisputable.

As the oldest voluntary health organization in the U.S., the ALA works to fight lung disease in all its forms, emphasizing environmental health, tobacco control, and asthma. Here in South Carolina, the ALA provides everything from educational programs to prepare school faculty and staff to support children with asthma to smoking cessation programs for adults looking to free themselves from tobacco.

In charge of this year's Oxygen Ball is the American Lung Association's Upstate Area Manager, Courtnie McKinney. "Our organization is dedicated to raising awareness to promote lung health and this event will not only help with fundraising efforts, it will support our local programs," she offers.

For more information on this year's Oxygen Ball, and to purchase tickets, visit: http://alase.ejoinme.org/?tabid=510863

Christopher George is a freelance writer and multimedia professional from Spartanburg. He is a former editor and publisher of the Spartanburg Spark, and his writing and video work has appeared in numerous online and print publications including Mountain Xpress in Asheville, NC and in titles by the Hub City Writers Project.