WINTERHAVEN — Seven teams, consisting of a “celebrity star” and an instructor, squared off in the Imperial Valley Regional Occupational Program Community Foundation’s 12th annual Dancing with the Stars Gala on Friday. In the end, appropriately enough, the victors were determined in a dance-off.
At the end of regular competition, it turned out judges Veronica Henderson, Steve Walker, Ethel Gonzalez and Luis Plancarte had awarded matching scores to the teams of Marcela Piedra and Derek Gonzalez Torres and Dr. Sachin A. Narvekar and Melissa Leon.
In the tradition of every great movie about a dance competition, the competition came down to a climatic last act, which Piedra and Gonzalez won with a conga-themed routine.
Neither of the final two teams were the Peoples’ Choice, however. That distinction, which was determined by the money collected from the crowd in seven team-specific donation boxes, belonged to Calexico City Manager David Dale and his coach Magy Cardenas.
It wasn’t even close. Once Dale ripped off his dress shirt to reveal a T-shirt graphically designed to look like a chiseled torso, the crowd seemingly came unglued, emptying their wallets to the turn of $3,369, which outdistanced the nearest competitor by nearly three grand.
The gala hit a new high this year, as it will be giving away 21 scholarships — more than $14,500 worth — compared to its usual 15 scholarships.
Additionally, nine scholarships totaling $5,500, another all-time high, will be given to local student leadership organizations.
It was the second time the IVROP Community Foundation held the gala at Quechan. The more than 500 guest tickets were completely sold out.
Dixie Krimm, Imperial Valley College curriculum specialist
Iveth Edith Hirales, Calexico High School teacher, IFBB Pro Elite body builder
Victor Lopez, IID, IVROP board member and IUSD board president
Dr. Sachin A. Narvekar, DC, Desert Chiropractic Desert Freeze Cryotherapy chiropractor
David B. Dale, Calexico city manager
Marcela Piedra, El Centro city manager