A top-flight Whirlpool exec may have raised the most cash to earn the People's Choice and achieved a perfect score in taking the Judges Choice Award for his parody of Lord of the Dance, but popular St. Joseph restaurateur Amy Bleich Heugel captured the coveted Mirror Ball Award last weekend at the 5th Annual Dancing With the Symphony Stars event at Lake Michigan College to claim bragging rights for at least the next full year.
With paint-stick portraits waving wildly throughout the audience throughout the night, "Amy's Army" of vociferous supporters cheered Heugel on to victory in the annual fundraiser supporting the Southwest Michigan Symphony Orchestra. "Team Amy" helped boost the owner and operator of the LakeHouse along Lakeshore Drive in St. Joseph to her win with the Mirror Ball annually going to the top performer based on a combination of both audience voting and judge's scores.
Heugel told Facebook fans, "I still can’t believe this happened...I would like to give a huge thank you to my family, friends & loved ones for the incredible support- I am humbled by your love & friendship and I love you all so much! Also, thanks to the SMSO for the honor of participating in this fundraising event! It’s been a huge privilege to raise money for the Symphony, become friends with all of the dancers and to also learn ballroom dancing...this silly girl took it very seriously!!! Thank you again!!!!"
Lutz, who is Senior Director of Global Communications at Whirlpool, wowed the crowd with his "Lord of the Pants" spoof sporting leather pants and a black sleeveless tee showing off his "guns." He also raised more than $6,000 prior to Saturday night's event to take the People's Choice Award by collecting votes from friends, family, colleagues and the general public at large.
Heugel and Lutz were two of the eight celebrity dancers from local businesses and organizations supporting the symphony. The others included:
- Christina Frank from Cornerstone Alliance
- Kurt Marzke from PriMar Petroleum
- Becky Spicer from 1st Source Bank
- Laura Starks from Starks Family Funeral Homes
- Brian Uridge from the St. Joseph Department of Public Safety
- Megan Yore from Lakeland Health
All of the dancers worked for weeks ahead of Saturday's event to compete for the awards.
The event was additionally supported by the talents and time of the Symphony dance instructors:
- Christin Adams
- Art Downey
- Carolyn Rabbers
- Jake Wilson
Emcee for the performances was Bill Downey from the Cook Plant, the auctioneer for the night was Dan McCrery from Tosi's Restaurant and the celebrity judges were: Danielle Colby, Jerry Price and Heather Kendrick.
With more than 300 guests and hundreds of auction items from local businesses, the Southwest Michigan Symphony Orchestra is expressing deep appreciation of the tremendous support the community provides. Proceeds from the fundraiser allow the SMSO to further its mission of Transforming Lives Through Music.
Shown in the photo accompanying this story on Moody on the Market are Brett Lutz from Whirlpool and Amy Bleich Heugel from the LakeHouse Restaurant in St. Joe.