At the Teddy Bear Ball, eight competing couples will join hands in dancing, and the community will join hands and hearts to raise funds for the Teddy Bear Patrol. The Teddy Bear Patrol provides locally made teddy bears to first responders, who in turn give these squeezable comforters to children in crisis. Grand Blanc Chamber of Commerce hosts the event every year at Genesys Conference & Banquet Center, and this year’s Teddy Bear Ball will be Friday, May 4, from 6 to 10 p.m. Tickets, which include refreshments and live music as well as the dance competition, are available from the Chamber (810-695-4222). Each couple has one amateur and one professional dancer. Read on to learn who has accepted the dance.
MELISSA LLEWELLYN WITHEY owns Pure Bliss Salon and Spa, which is on the Salon Today 200 list of top U.S. salons. She’s participating to show kids that people care and to be part of changing kids’ lives through the bears. Withey is dancing for Weiss Advocacy Center.
MARK ZYBER, a salesperson at Suski Chevrolet/Buick, has fulfilled transportation needs for 35+ years. Zyber wants others to know this event is for a good cause: These bears comfort children and are made by women gaining workplace skills. His charity is Heartbeat of Greater Flint, a prolife pregnancy resource center.
LT. MATT SIMPSON is in charge of patrol functions for the Grand Blanc Township Police Department. He accepted the dance because he has seen the very positive effect of the bears on youth. Simpson is supporting Autism Support & Resource Center because his son, Mason, is on the spectrum.
HEATHER JAKEWAY is president of The Condominium Group, Inc., a full-service property management company specializing in Condominium Association management. She’s dancing to show her daughters that being out of your comfort zone can be exciting, fun and rewarding. Her charity is Carriage Town Ministries.
ALLISON SMITH, a cosmetologist, is dancing partly because her husband deflected an invitation to participate to her, thinking he had two left feet. Her cause is McKenna’s Beauty Bar. McKenna Schummer, a Grand Blanc girl who died from cancer March 6, designed a place in her hospital for making other patients feel beautiful.
MICHELLE LICHTENBERG teaches science and runs the dance program at Woodland Park Academy, a fine arts charter school. Its dance classes teach middle schoolers social dance. She wants the Teddy Bear Ball to show that when people pull together for a great cause, they can do amazing things.
Right out of college, GARY NUCIAN began his career at Merrill Lynch, where he’s now vice president analyst/investor. In June 2018, he will mark 49 years there. He loves music and dancing, and being in the Teddy Bear Ball has always been a bucket list item for Nucian.
BARRY DOUGLAS offers 49 years of dance training and has over 38 years of experience teaching and performing. He is certified by six different agencies to teach 27 different dance styles, was honored as a Masters jazz choreographer by Dance Masters of America and is a certified dance judge.