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Dancing with the St. Louis stars benefits local nonprofit the Independence Center

Dancing with the St. Louis Stars features some well-known faces in the community

ST. LOUIS — Dancing With the St. Louis Stars is a huge fundraising event on Saturday, January 15th. It's a benefit for the Independence Center, which is a rehabilitation program for adults with severe mental illness.

All eyes will be on the dance floor at the Ritz Carlton this Saturday for Dancing with the St. Louis Stars, a competition for a cause.

George Brooks, a dancer, said," So when you see George and Hanna dance, you put down the big bucks. You lay it down, you come out there, you say, 'Hey we're going to raise money for the Independence Center and its' going to make a great difference in a lot of people's lives.’"

Dancing with the St. Louis Stars features some well-known faces in the community from a local media personality, to CEOs, and a business owner. All money raised goes towards the nonprofit the Independence Center. And each year, a member of the nonprofit is asked to be a star. George Brooks is proud to raise awareness and represent the nonprofit that's helped him so much. George first discovered the Independence Center a few years ago.

He said, “I have paranoid schizophrenia… I got out of the hospital and I had no place to go. I remember people telling me about the Independence Center and a place to go to hang out with other people in the similar boat as me. I started coming here almost every day during the week. They helped me get a job, out on my feet, it's been great to be part of the Independence Center."

The Independence Center assists adults with serious and persistent mental illnesses to live and work in the community independently and with dignity. You can often find George lending a hand at the Clubhouse Shop in the Central West End, which offers members a way to develop retail, clerical and other employment skills which enables them to re-enter the workforce.

Abby Berger, Business Development Manager at the Independence Center, said, “We provide wrap around services to people coming in. That could include anything from our clinic with psychiatrists and nurse practitioners to a residential program where we have independent residential care facilities.”

Dancing with the St. Louis Stars is the biggest fundraiser of the year.

Berger said, “We rely on donations from the community to support our programming and services. This makes up half the fundraising for the year. This is really important to our organization.”

The event will be livestreamed this year.

Berger said, “The competition is who can raise the most votes. And votes are $10 a piece so whoever can raise the most in donations is crowned the dance champion.”

For George’s professional dance partner Hanna Pierce, this is her third time performing in the event.

Pierce said, “Even if we don't win, though I'm very competitive, it's always really great and the money that goes toward the Intendance Center, which is used so well.”

George doesn't have any dance experience but is having a blast with every step.

To vote, go to https://independencecenter.org/.

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