“Dancing for the Stars” puts MSU faculty, staff in spotlight


Colin Stevenson

Café con Leche founder Gonzalo Robles and assistant professor Stephanie Zamora-Robles dance together in the group “Latino Beat” to raise money for charity, Feb. 17.

Big Brothers Big Sisters held their annual fundraising event and competition Dancing for the Stars on Feb. 17. Attendees of the event were given purchasable ballots with which they could vote on their favorite dancing team, and Jean Hall, executive director of Wichita County’s BBBS, said that the local community was very generous.

“We actually met budget before the event started so we were like this is fantastic. We’re just shooting for the stars now. And then the amount that came in during the event was more than projected so…..we were just happy at every level,” Hall said. “That let us walk in with confidence that night because, like, we can’t blow it at this point. We can have a bad experience, but we’re not gonna be a failure at this point.”

Dancing for the Stars’ fundraising goal was $125,000 and the event raised $133,850 by the end of the night. Hall said these funds go to funding their programming and personnel, thereby ensuring the quality of BBBS’ mentorships. Hall and her team have already begun planning for next year’s event and, according to Hall, are hoping to reach further beyond their goals. 

“I am exhausted. But also thrilled. Absolutely thrilled. The community turned out in force,” Hall said. “And in the end the numbers came down to a big success for the kids. Which was the whole point. Because the goal wasn’t to have a party. The party was the means toward the goal of helping the kids and it was successful. That’s really what we wanted to see.”

Pam Hughes Pak, 2021 winner of the Mirrorball award for raising the most money of the night, was asked to be a judge for this year’s event. She said her own experience competing helped her understand how much work each team of dancers put into their performance. 

“I’m not gonna lie I warned them I was just gonna give everybody a 10. There was no way that anybody deserved less. When they volunteered to do Dancing for the Stars, because I was on the other side, I knew what that meant,” Pah said. “Knowing that they had to do that, I mean, they were already winners… when they said yes they said “I’m gonna sacrifice to help Big Brothers Big,” Sisters so they deserve 10’s.”

Pak said that it was an honor to be asked on as a judge and that she and her family had been involved with Dancing for the Stars since its beginning over eight years ago. Both Pak and Hall are MSU alums, an aspect that Hall said makes her proud to see MSU students participating in BBBS programming. 

“I’ll tell you what, the programming people here have said over and over, the programming at MSU, the mentoring activities we do there, they’re solid, they’re dependable, and they got us through the pandemic. Because, you know, when everything’s going virtual the MSU students were like “we got this!” The MSU students kept turning up to mentor through the pandemic. They never stopped,” Hall said.

After having a smaller version of Dancing for the Stars in 2021, this event was a bit of a comeback for Hall and her team, as she described it as the first recent edition of the event with “the pre-pandemic flair [and] the big crowds.”

Keith Lamb, interim president, said what BBBS does is critical to the Wichita Falls community and that MSU and BBBS’ interaction made him proud.

“I’m really proud, frankly, to see that many people involved from Midwestern in such a great cause. And it goes beyond just having Midwestern’s name out there, right, and having eyes on Midwestern and things like that. It’s about the future of our community,” Lamb said. “It helps give our youth, who may be disadvantaged or need that mentorship or need that guidance, that’s the future of our community in many respects. And that’s the community that we’re a part of, and that’s the community that we should be actively involved in, so, yeah I like seeing Midwestern be such a big part of things like that to be honest with you.”