The Dancing for a Brand New Me couples pose after their opening introduction number. Photos by Makenzie Davis

Local dancers perform to raise awareness, funds

Dancing couples paraded on the stage showing off their well-rehearsed routines, but amidst the entertaining performances, the community was made aware of domestic violence within the community.

CHP Officer Kristen Wilburn and Clinton Verge, the winners of the fourth annual Dancing for a Brand New Me event, dance to “Despacito” for the Latin number. The event promoted awareness and raised funds for local domestic violence victims.

On Friday, Oct. 20 and Saturday, Oct. 21, Lassen Family Services Dancing for a Brand New Me event showed off five couples while bringing awareness to the community about local abuse and domestic violence.

According to Lassen Family Services Director Peter Celum, three our of four people don’t know how to best help someone suffering from these issues, he hoped that the Dancing For a Brand New Me event would help change that number by promoting awareness.

Kristen Wilburn and her professional dance partner Clinton Verge took home the first place prize. Competing against the winning duo were Thomas Herrera and Celeste Wise, Jayson Vial and Doria Dalu, Melyssa Rios and Seanne McElrath and Ellie Brown with Alex McElrath.

For the show, which just ended its fourth annual performance, community members are paired with a professional dancer. After months of preparation and rehearsing, the couples take to the stage and present three dances each.

This year the dance categories were classic movies, Latin and dancer’s choice.

Judging the couples this year and imparting their sound dance wisdom were Emily Celum, Chris Montgomery, Adam Runyan, Andy Beck and Terra Avilla.

However, set in the middle of the dance routines, attendees at both nights of the event received testimony from domestic violence survivors.

On Saturday, Cindy Lipton shared her story being a domestic violence victim, and told of how Lassen Family Services changed her life.

“I was at my wit’s end and had nowhere to turn,” she recounted. Then, a friend told her about Lassen Family Services.

She said going there was initially difficult for her, but she had to think of her children.

“For the first time in a long time, we felt safe … (Lassen Family Services) is there for you when you need them the most,” she said.

Lassen Family Services board secretary Linda McAndrews, and domestic violence survivor, shared her story as well.

“It’s so important to keep this message alive,” McAndrews said.

Both speakers mentioned the shift in acceptance of domestic violence – how it was often overlooked decades ago, and the shift now to get victims help.

McAndrews shared that all should be aware of resources available to victims, and she mentioned the support those in Lassen County offers to victims.

“I’m proud to live in a community that gets it,” McAndrews said.