By DOUG WILSON
Herald-Whig Senior Writer
Local dancing stars tripped the light fantastic Friday night at Cornerstone's annual fundraiser and a crowd of nearly 750 cheered along.
Anna Lee Welty and Sam Dancer won the grand prize for a jazz number that scored high with judges and the audience.
Crowd appeal was a key motivation for many of the 17 couples.
"I love it. Definitely when you get the crowd on your side, it's lots of energy, lots of fun," said Craig Heming after completing a hip-hop selection with Casey Schnack.
The pair capped a high-energy routine with Schnack standing at center stage as Heming jumped over her head and stuck the landing on beat with the music.
Schnack said practice sessions were complicated by her illness and Heming's trip to Mexico.
Dancing with Local Stars crowd members got behind their favorites as the competition went on. Chris Patterson and Lindsey Boetsch got high scores from two judges, but audience members booed their displeasure when the third score was a 6. That didn't dampen the experience for the couple.
"It's for a good cause. We're just having a good time," said Patterson, who wore gold MC Hammer pants.
Gerilynn Malone and Steve Grabenstetter won for best costumes as they danced to a country western tune that had people clapping in time. Grabenstetter built a bar, complete with menu, that helped set the mood for the routine. After they finished their routine they presented Randy's Root Beer to the judges.
"It wasn't meant as a bribe. That was on the menu," Grabenstetter said.
"We just had a fabulous time. It was a good cause and we enjoy dancing," Malone said.
Alison Merrill and Dave Kroner won the "best chemistry" award after getting some help with their routine. Merrill's first-grade class members marched on stage and walked a circuit around the dancers as the number was coming to an end. Students carried balloons tied to messages and dreams written by the children.
Kevin and Hilary Bond Minnick won the "most elegant" ward. Ted Meyer and Brandy Blickhan won for ‘most spirited' and Meyer carried on in spite of a minor wardrobe malfunction. Ginny Gully and James Lemon won the "people's choice" award for their Latin ballroom number.
Celebrity judges were Miss Illinois Megan Ervin, first Dancing with Local Stars winner Angie Asmann and Tom Van Ness.
Terry Anderson received the Humanitarian Award from Cornerstone before the dance competition began. After volunteering for a number of organizations, Anderson now is a volunteer barn manager at Quincy Equestrian Services and Therapy.
"When I'm out in the barn, I feel like I'm exactly where God wants me to be," Anderson said.
She said she was extremely humbled to be selected for the award. Anderson also called on everyone to "do something" for quality of life in the community and to help others.
"I always tell my kids we're not here to make a living. We're here to make a difference," Anderson said.
Cornerstone began as Family Service Agency of Adams County on Nov. 6, 1947. The name was changed to Cornerstone Foundations for Families in 2002. It is a licensed child welfare agency that provides a variety of family support and counseling services for individuals of all ages as well as couples and families.
John Hirner, executive director of Cornerstone said the dance competition, now in its third year, has grown into a major funding source for the organization.
"As long as everybody enjoys themselves, it doesn't really matter who wins. Everybody wins as long as Cornerstone wins. It's awesome," Heming said.