Each year, local celebrities hit the dance floor to raise money for a very worthy cause — the Children’s Tumor Foundation. The Dancing With Our Stars gala is the Arkansas chapter’s largest fundraising event of the year and allows the foundation to advance its mission of driving research, expanding knowledge and advancing care in the fight against neurofibromatosis (NF).
This year’s event will take place on Thursday, Sept. 5, at the Robinson Center Ballroom. We chatted with one of this year’s stars, Connie Bennett, about her involvement with the nonprofit and what it’s like to be the one dancing.
Tell us a little bit about yourself, what keeps you busy?
I have been married for 34 years to my husband, Ed Bennett. We have one daughter, Stacey Hawkins. My husband works for McGriff Insurance services. We have an adorable Welsh terrier named Punkin. I am a retired preschool teacher and I spend my time staying active and volunteering for various organizations. I am on the board for Women and Children First and I volunteer regularly in the Infant Toddler Unit at Arkansas Children’s Hospital. My husband and I have chaired events for Ronald McDonald House and the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
How did you get involved with the Children’s Tumor Foundation?
Ed and I have enjoyed Dancing With Our Stars for years. Friends Natalie Rockefeller and Rick Fleetwood are on the board for CTF and they convinced me I could do this dancing thing. (Now that I have taken some lessons, they may be wrong.)
What is something most people don’t know about NF?
That it is more common than Duchenne muscular dystrophy and cystic fibrosis combined, yet it is not as well known. It is a genetic disorder, and although research has made great strides, we still have a long road to end NF.
What is it like being one of the stars at this years Gala?
Exciting and scary, but I will try my best to raise awareness for NF. I may not be able to dance, but my heart is in the right place. I just wish someone would tell my feet to be in the right place for the dancing!
What are you most looking forward to at the event?
Doing something out of my box. I have been volunteering for many organizations over the years, but I have never done anything like this.
Why do you love attending this event?
I love that the audience gets so involved. The dancers cheer for each other and we are going to be like family after this experience. I just love the fun atmosphere of the crowd cheering everyone on.
To learn more about this year's Dancing With Our Stars event, visit the Children’s Tumor Foundation of Arkansas website.