Suneel's Celebrity Gala will feature local celebrities competing in various ballroom dance disciplines
The Suneel's Light Foundation has announced the third annual Suneel's Celebrity Gala will be held from 6-11 p.m. Friday, Nov. 6, in the Statler City grand ballroom. The "Dancing with the Stars"-inspired event will feature eight well-known local celebrities from across Western New York showcasing their dancing prowess in a head to head competition.
Tickets for Suneel's Celebrity Gala are $175 per person or $325 a couple.
The star-studded affair will feature eight local celebrities who have been challenged by Suneel's Light Foundation to team up with dance professionals from Western New York's top dance studios to learn various ballroom dance disciplines and to strut their best dance moves in the Suneel's Celebrity Gala charity dance competition. Celebrity performers include "Baby" Joe Mesi, former boxing heavyweight contender; Nalina Shapiro, WIVB Channel 4 anchor and reporter; Ed Drantch, WKBW Channel 7 anchor; Melissa Holmes, WGRZ Channel 2 "Daybreak" anchor; Jonah Javad, WGRZ Channel 2 sports anchor; Tracey Drury, Business First reporter; Mike Shatzel, Buffalo restaurateur and craft beer aficionado; and Laura Daniels, host of Mix 96's "Morning Rush" show. They are currently training as they vie for the coveted title of "Suneel's Celebrity Gala Champion" and bragging rights around Western New York.
Prior to the competition, each celebrity is teamed up with a dance professional from one of the local participating dance schools - Dance Like a Star with Serge, Fred Astaire and Travis Widrick Tango, and Ballroom and Beyond - which have donated their services to teach them a specific discipline of ballroom dance. Each celebrity goes through weekly dance and choreography lessons with a dancing professional to master a themed performance for the competition.
The Suneel's Celebrity Gala will be judged by a combination of audience votes, online voters and special guest judges, including Congressman Chris Collins, Buffalo Sabres great Mike "Robey" Robitaille and WBFO/NPR senior reporter Eileen Buckley.
To add to the night's entertainment, stars from previous Suneel's Celebrity Gala will take the dance floor to dazzle eventgoers in a special alumni swing dance-themed performance. Stars returning this year include Maryalice Demler, WGRZ Channel 2 anchor; Lauren Hall, WIVB Channel 4 reporter; 2014 Suneel's Celebrity Gala champion Kevin Sylvester, host of WGR "Hockey Hotline," Michael Wooten and Jeff Preval, WGRZ Channel 2 reporters; and Stephanie Mateczun.
In an effort to engage the greater Western New York community and open the voting to the public, Suneel's Light Foundation has launched a new event-specific website, suneelscelebritygala.com, featuring videos of all the stars receiving dancing lessons and chronicling their progress. Visitors to the website are encouraged to vote for their favorite celebrities leading up until the night of the gala. Each vote is $1, which allows all of Western New York and beyond to support their favorite celebrity, while bringing Suneel's Light Foundation one step closer to helping find a treatment for DMD.
Suneel's Light Foundation is a local nonprofit foundation dedicated to raising funds for research that will lead to the treatment of Duchenne muscular dystrophy, all while increasing public awareness of the genetic disease.
The formal affair will not only consist of dancing and star-studded competition, but will also include a gourmet sit-down dinner, top-shelf open bar and first-class auction items, including unique travel destinations, exquisite jewelry and one-of-a-kind collectables.