jpitchford@newsargus.com

Sometimes, you just have to dance. For the contestants in Friday's Dancing Stars of Wayne County, that sentiment held true, as prominent community members got up on stage at the Paramount Theatre to raise money for the Wayne Education Network.

In front of a packed house, the dancers -- pastors, educators, financial professionals and more -- teamed up with local dance studios to perform a wide variety of pieces. Each had raised money for the WEN before the night, and audience members purchased extra tickets in order to vote for their favorites as the night went on. Nineteen "stars" and five local dance studios worked together for the event.

Veronica Davis, representing Strickland Insurance, pulled ahead of the pack in fundraising with $6,015 raised by the end of the night. Behind her were pastor Jim Harry -- who went from out of the top three to second place in one night -- with $3,580 and Kelly Helms with $3,505.

Davis, who performed a rendition of "Cell Block Tango" with Linzy Howell and Ashley Worley, said she was happy to have been able to make an impact on education in Wayne County.

"I really have to thank my coworkers," she said. "It means a lot that I can actually have my people come out and make an impact like that."

Wayne Education Network has so far donated over $33,000 in teacher stipends and over $120,000 in grants, and also supports several local job and career fairs at local schools.

Davis, along with Howell and Worley, also won the judge's Most Entertaining award. William Vann, principal of Wayne Middle/High Academy, won outstanding male for his energetic dance to "Ice, Ice Baby," while Southern Medical Oncology Center's Amy Garmendia and Studio 33 won Best Choreography for her emotional rendition of "Piece by Piece."

Jennifer Sumler, with Cheryl A. Alleman, CPA, won Outstanding Female, dressing up in a wig and dancing to "Disco Inferno."

Lara Landers, director of marketing and events for the Wayne County Chamber of Commerce, said she was happy with the night's turnout. She said that, at the end of the day, the children were the real focus.

"Education effects everyone, no matter who you are in the community," she said. "We've had an amazing turnout."

Landers did not yet know how much money the event had raised as of press time.