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'Dance Moms' help Western Hills raise $8,500
STARS OF THE SHOW: Chloe Lukasiak and Maddie Ziegler pose for a photo during the Dance Moms event at Warwick Mall.

The PTO raised more than $8,500 for Western Hills Middle School’s after-school programs when they hosted the stars from the hit television show "Dance Moms" at Warwick Mall. Initially planned as an event to be housed at the school, it quickly outgrew that venue and was moved to the mall location.

Dancers Chloe and Maddie, along with their moms, Christie Lukasiak and Melissa Ziegler-Gisoni, were available for photos and autographs for most of the day on Nov. 11. The lines were set up Disneyland-style, with girls waiting for hours for their chance to meet the stars.

"People were lined up at 9:30 this morning," said PTO President Wendi Barricelli, noting that even the Rhode Island Make-A-Wish Foundation came to the event, hoping to grant the wish of a mother who had just one week to live. "There wasn't a dry eye in the room. It really put everything into perspective.”

Tickets ranged from $15 for WHMS students to $45 for VIP package tickets. According to Barricelli, Glitzy Girls paid for the stars' flights. Upon taking over the PTO presidency at Western Hills, Barricelli made it a personal goal to find ways to fundraise for after-school events.

"I just want them to have what we had," she said.

The money raised will go towards activities including intramural sports and drama.

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