In the Spotlight with Terra Brantley (Dancing with the Stars Fort Wayne)

Updated: Aug. 19, 2022 at 5:00 PM EDT
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FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WPTA21) - When it comes to raising money for a good cause, The Carriage House puts the ‘fun’ in fundraising — and it’s annual gala Dancing with the Fort Wayne Stars is ‘in the spotlight’ this week.

“At The Carriage House, we do non-traditional, psycho-social rehab for adults with serious mental illnesses,” executive director Andy Wilson said. “Things like schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, major depression — we help people recover and reintegrate in the community. Help folks get back to work, get back to school, and move into better places.”

The clubhouse is designed for connecting over conversation, through activities and skills like making and/or eating meals, creating videos, and transitioning to jobs. It’s made a huge difference in Mari Rogers life. “Since I’ve been here, I’ve found the confidence and muster to live with my mental illness,” she said. Despite numerous diagnoses and challenges, she took advantage of The Carriage House’s programs, and even started giving back to the non-profit. Rogers currently has a job, and has not only bought her own car, but donated one for use by the organization. “Mental illness is not something you roll over and die with,” she added. “Stigma is just that. Words that people believe. You can do so much more knowing it can be treated.”

Dancing with the Fort Wayne Stars was a huge success in 2021. Over $500,000 was raised — a hefty sum to keep operations running smoothly. The event itself takes ten local celebrity dancers with hours of dance classes, and has them perform in front of an audience of 1,200 fans. But unlike the popular TV show, the coveted trophy doesn’t go to the best dancers, but rather those who raise the most money.

Last year’s runner-ups, Jane Melvin and instructor Quinton MacAdam shared their advice for the incoming stars to WBOI’s Terra Brantley. “We put about 30 hours into it,” MacAdam shared. “It’s all about the votes. It’s all about the fundraising. “Whoever gets this guy as a partner is in good shape — just do about one or two hours more so you don’t get runner-up!” Melvin laughed. “You can’t predict what it’s going to feel like when you get in front of all those lights, in front of all those people. You know your music, you know your dance and most of all, just have fun. It is truly once in a lifetime.”

Though dancers are hard at work now, the event is taking place October 6, from 5:30-10 p.m. You can see the celebrity line-up, buy tickets & votes, or donate through their website here. More information on The Carriage House and its services can be found here.

“There’s nothing you can do ‚more fun than to dance.” MacAdam concluded. “If you’re doing Dancing with the Stars Fort Wayne, there’s not a better charity than we could give to then the Carriage House… don’t worry about the dancing — you’re going to have a blast!”