Taking Home the Trophy

All the glitz and glamour of “Dancing With the Stars” has certainly rubbed off on Naperville. The community is still buzzing over the city’s first “Dancing With the Celebrities” competition. The fundraising event benefitted the Community Career Center and showed off some of the hidden talents of Naperville’s “movers and shakers”.

Councilman Kenn Miller, Councilman Grant Wehrli, City Manager Doug Krieger, State Representative Darlene Senger, Naperville Magazine Publisher Leah Rippe, and Fire Chief Mark Puknaitis burned up the dance floor in fierce competition for the mirror-ball trophy.

“I think we did awesome,” said Puknaitis. “We were nervous, but we loosened up once we started dancing. I don’t think we made any mistakes. We felt good. It was a success.”

“It was 90 seconds of a little bit of terror and a whole lot of fun,” said Krieger.

The teams had eight weeks to perfect dances from the Cha-Cha to the Jitterbug before showing off their moves in front of a sold out crowd and a panel of judges. Acting as a guest judge was Tanya Lysacek, mother of Olympic Figure Skater and “Dancing With the Stars” runner-up Evan Lysacek.

“It was really an honor,” said Lysacek. “I was not expecting it. I thought I was coming as an observer and coming to have fun. It’s a good thing they didn’t ask me ahead of time because I probably would have been nervous, so it was a nice surprise.”

Each dancing duo took home a title: Most Stylin’ went to Doug Krieger, Best Stage Presence to Kenn Miller, Best Footwork went to Darlene Senger, while Grant Wehrli was the Crowd Pleaser and Best Hip Action went to Mark Puknaitis.

In the end it was Leah Rippe who took home the Grand Champion title.

“I’m speechless, honestly,” said Rippe. “I’m shaking. This was so fun.”

While each of the competitors say preparing for the competition took a lot of time, they all agree it was for a good cause. And some might even continue ballroom dancing for fun.

Organizers say the event was so successful; plans are already underway to do it again next year.


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