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Giant steps to assist mentoring
John Howell
STARTING OFF WITH A BANG: To open the show, host and Channel 10 reporter Mario Hilario took to the floor for his signature opening number with Kathy St. Jean of Dancin’ Feelin’ and the Total Convergent Dancers.

It was a night of unique challenges and overwhelming success as competitors and pros took to the floor for the 8th annual Dancing With The Stars of Mentoring event to benefit the RI Mentoring Partnership. The event raised a record $115,000, with the performers bringing in more than $64,000 through individual fundraising.

When Steve Donovan began his performance, everything was going smoothly. That is, until his pants split right down the middle. “Until my pants ripped, there was some tension. The pants were liberating,” joked Donovan. What made the moment even funnier was when Donovan revealed his pants also split during rehearsal earlier that day. “I thought, what are the chances they’ll rip again? Apparently it’s 1 in 1.”

Dancer Brian Moretti almost couldn’t compete again this year. A leg injury prevented him from competing last year, and a month before this year’s competition he underwent an emergency appendectomy. But Moretti beat the odds, earning a standing ovation from more than 100 family, friends and coworkers filling the ballroom in support.

She may have been the oldest in the competition, but Jane Calderara Kratsch let her personality shine during her “My Fair Lady”-inspired performance, which featured her singing and selling flowers to raise money before being swept across the floor by her partner Josh Morgenstein. “It’s about having fun. I’ve had the time of my life,” said Kratsch, who admits she was aiming for Most Entertaining, which she won.

Event co-host Mario Hilario of NBC 10 was impressed. “She came out and had such personality,” he said.

Hilario was equally impressed and admittedly surprised by Judge’s Choice winner Susan Houle, a sixth grade teacher in Warwick. “She executed it flawlessly,” he said of her beautiful Viennese Waltz. Hilario said all of the dancers raised the bar and each was “superb” in their own way.

The night’s bittersweet moment came when Arlene McNulty announced she would be retiring after over 20 years with the Mentoring Partnership, having started with the Chamber Education Foundation in 1993. “I stayed because of the kids. I stayed because of the wonderful mentors. I stayed because I saw results,” said McNulty.

McNulty watched the organization grow from 10 children to 5,702, and hopes to leave a legacy behind through Arlene’s Angels, a group of individuals who will make automatic monthly donations to the Partnership, ensuring the organization will be sustainable for years to come.


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