Footloose and fancy free
For a moment on Saturday night, April 27, Shelby Zempel and Scott McCauley thought they were John Travolta and Olivia Newton John performing a popular number from Grease.
The duo, not a married couple but friends for many years, won the 2019 Dancing With Our Steele County Stars competition staged in the Medford High School Auditorium. They both reside in Owatonna.
Zempel and McCauley raised $14,650 to earn the fundraiser award along with the audience choice trophy.
This was the ninth annual such event that was sponsored by the Healthy Seniors of Steele County. More than $50,000 was raised, reported Edna Ringhofer, Healthy Seniors executive director.
Healthy Seniors of Steele County helps seniors in need who are 65 and older, live healthy, safe and independent in their own homes and to prolong the length of spending down into Medical Assistance and to divert nursing home placements.
Seven couples performed to the enjoyment of more than 500 guests who represented family and friends of the dancers.
The Steele County Dancing show is patterned after the popular national television series that has aired for 13 years.
Zempel and McCauley were the fifth couple to take the dancing stage. They danced the Quickstep to the song, "You're the One That I Want."
McCauley's father was a very accomplished singer, actor, model and dancer after he retired, and Zempel’s dream was to perform in some version of Grease.
Both Zempel and McCauley work at Federated Insurance.
McCauley has worked at Federated and lived n Owatonna for more than 32 years. His wife Sarah grew up in Owatonna. Both were blessed with four children, two daughters-in-law and a future son-in-law.
Zempel has lived and worked in Owatonna for more than 25 years and has two daughters. She has spent much of her time coaching, mentoring and volunteering in the community.
Dana and Bill Miller placed second in the dance competition dancing a foxtrot, "I am a Good Girl" by Christina Aguilera.
Placing third overall were Elizabeth and Ryan Hedlund doing a jive/swing dance entitled "Choo Choo Ch'Boogie" by the 101 Strings Orchestra.
Kelly and Derrick LaMotte of Blooming Prairie kicked off the night's action by performing a Cha Cha, "Perhaps, Perhaps, Perhaps" by the Pussy Cat Dolls.
The LaMottes said they were happy to go on stage first because they then could get rid of the butterflies and enjoy the rest of the dancing fun.
Dancing second were Sarah and Greg Schlicker of Owatonna. They performed a Night Club Two Step to "The Nightengale" by Trisha Yearwood.
Rebecca and Will Moore of Owatonna danced in the fourth spot and performed a Tango number, "Montserrat" by Orquestra Del Platu.
Scoring the highest total from the judges during the evening were Margaret (Peggy) and Stephen Nelson, doing a Viennese Waltz, "Erin Shores" by the Coors. Judges Paul Smith, Dave Schlobohm and Jim Qualley gave the couple a combined total of 29, two 10s and a 9.
Following their dances, contestants were interviewed by emcee Karen Legault. Zempel said she was "so honored" to be entered in the competition. "I want to do it again," she told the audience.
Eric Thronson, chairman of the Healthy Seniors board of directors, welcomed guests to the 2019 dance competition. "There's so much work and effort shown by volunteers in organizing this show," he said.
"The dancers cease to amaze me," Thronson said. "They work hard to get it right for the Healthy Seniors of Steele County," he added.
Veterans of Steele County presented the colors on stage and stood in formation as Thronson's daughter, Mary Thronson sang the National Anthem.
Karen and Dave Legault were emcees for the evening.
The evening opened with a group number performed by Brian and Lynette Dawley, Brogan Dawley, Brooke and Lon Thiele, Beth and Brent Svenby, Bessie Peterson and Craig Doring.
Brian and Lynette Dawley were choreographers and coaches for the 2019 show. They boast over 20 years of dance experience.
Following the evening dances, an intermission enabled dancers to mingle with family and friends and enjoy some refreshments. Guests also had the opportunity to vote for their favorite dance couple.
When the evening program resumed, Linda Gallea and Harold Olesen danced to "All Shook Up" by Elvis Presley.
The evening dancing ended with a group number, the "Curly Shuffle" by Jump in the Saddle. It was a swing/charleston number performed by Brian and Lynette Dawley, Brooke and Lon Thiele, Beth and Brent Svenby and by Bessie Peterson and Craig Doring.