The beloved charity fundraiser has found a new home with Lumina Alliance

ATASCADERO — Dancing with our Stars (DWOS) was back and bigger than ever this year. The local dance charity fundraiser took place at the Atascadero Lake Pavillion over the course of four nights. The dinner and dance show featured dinner and dessert from Pacific Harvest Catering, emceeing from Paso Robles Mayor Steve Martin, and entertainment featuring some of the community’s trailblazers. “Prime Time Atascadero: Season 11” ran from Wednesday, Sept. 14, to Saturday, Sept. 17, and was directed by Molly Comin with assistant direction from Christina Troxel.

The four nights of fun featured over 40 dancers, including this year’s six Community Stars, their professional dance partners, past winners, and world-class choreographers. Each dance was set to a familiar TV show theme song, and the audience voted for the People’s Choice every night. They also added $20 votes to envelopes representing each of the Community Stars and the charities they were representing. On Saturday night, the overall winners were announced along with the total raised for all six nonprofits. 

“The dancers each possess a heart for service, committing tremendous time and effort to commit to the role of “Community Star,” said event producer Jeannie Malik.


Third place went to Kate Auslen, who raised $31,049 for the Atascadero Performing Arts Center Committee by dancing to “It’s Green Acres for Mr. Ed,” choreographed by Frank Sanchez. Second place went to Steve Robinson, who raised $51,847 for The Charles Paddock Zoo, dancing to “Meet the Flinstones,” choreographed by Christina Troxel. Finally, the Mirror Ball Trophy and bragging rights of Grand Champion went to Melinda Reed, who raised $65,579 for the Templeton Community Library Association. She danced to “Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego,” choreographed by Judie Magonacelaya and Charlie Bradley. In addition, Dianna Vonderheide danced to benefit the North County Economic Foundation/Leadership North County, Shay Angles performed for Sheriff’s Advisory Board/Atascadero Police K9 Foundation, and Michelle Harms danced for the Friends of the Atascadero Library, which was the original reason for starting DWOS. In total, all money raised by the dancers and the silent auction was $201,000.

“The coveted Mirror Ball Trophy is a perpetual trophy, passed on year after year to the organization who wins the overall championship,” Malik said. “Templeton Community Library Association, represented by Community Star Melinda Reed, will display the large trophy at the new Templeton Library (opening soon) until Lumina Alliance hosts the event in March 2024.” 

It was announced on Saturday night that after 11 years of DWOS being hosted by the Friends of the Atascadero Library, Lumina Alliance will take over the event. 

“CEO Jennifer Adams of Lumina Alliance approached me after she heard through the grapevine that Friends of the Atascadero Library were considering adopting out the event to another nonprofit organization,” Malik explained. “I recall the instant warm fuzzy feeling that DWOS had found its forever home and that it would be a perfect fit paired with Lumina Alliance.

 “The DWOS event is going county-wide. The sky’s the limit. I have total faith that Lumina Alliance will continue the amazing progression of the event, and their organization will benefit tenfold from the increase in financial support to meet the needs of their victims surviving intimate violence/abuse.” 

Malik has been at the helm of DWOS since April 2012, which is the same year she won the competition earlier with a tap dance featuring Jim Patterson, the former SLO County supervisor. Malik’s creative direction as event producer can be seen in the success of the fun competition for all these years — a competition that has continued to grow into what it is today. 

“Special thanks to my core DWOS team members, Grenda Ernst and Leigh Livick, who have supported me from fall of 2010 as a Community Star dancer and then as event producer from April 2012-22. It’s been an exciting chapter in my book of life,” stated Malik. “Grenda and Leigh are the ones responsible for flying our daughter, Michelle, from Oregon for a 24-hour ‘surprise’ trip home so that she could attend the final DWOS event under my leadership. This thoughtful, very generous gift will be with me for a lifetime. Having Michelle present was the icing on the cake for closing this era in my life. 

“Also, a big dose of gratitude to our original director, Frank Sanchez, who brought DWOS to new heights from 2015-2018 with his professional dance experience and kind mentoring. And, many kudos to my dear husband and steadfast anchor, Greg, for his unwavering love and support during the past decade of my passionate DWOS involvement.”

You can catch a sneak peek of Lumina’s DWOS at the Lumina Alliance annual event at Rava Winery on March 18, 2023. DWOS will officially return to the Atascadero Lake Pavilion March 14-16, 2024.