Celebrity dancers announced for 2017 Star Dancing Gala

Senator Mike Johnston to emcee night of ‘Oh the Place We’ll Go’ to benefit YouthPower365

Avon, Colo., April 2017 — The Vail Valley is a destination for many thousands around the world, but what about the thousands of young people who grow up here? What destinations await them in their future?

The highly-anticipated Star Dancing Gala is back July 18 at the Vail Valley Jet Center as host YouthPower365 explores a colorful, imaginative, and dream-filled world inspired by Dr. Seuss’ “Oh the Places You’ll Go.”

“Every Eagle County Child has a world of possibility in front of them, and it’s inspiring to think about all the places they’ll go as they grow up, explore, and contribute to the world around them,” said YouthPower365 Executive Director Melisa Rewold-Thuon. “With this year’s theme, we’ll celebrate the wide range of possibilities we create for our kids when we come together as a community each year at the Star Dancing Gala.”

This year’s celebrity dancers are as colorful as the theme: Betsy Kogan, Josh Lautenberg, Sheldon Andrew, Meredith Kennedy, Brian Maurer, Michele Philippon, Marc Philippon, Jr., Agatha Precourt, and Harvey Simpson will grace the stage at the event that celebrates and supports the successful public-private partnership between YouthPower365, which provides extended learning opportunities for more than 4,200 young people, and all of Eagle County’s schools.

The dancers are already hard at work rehearsing – and also raising money to help support YouthPower365’s mission ‘To provide extended learning year-round that inspires, educates and empowers the youth and families of Eagle County from cradle to career’.

The public can support the cause by supporting the dancers with votes of $10 or more at

This year’s event will also once again feature Eagle County native Mike Johnston as emcee. Johnston is a Vail native who, before becoming a state Senator for District 33, spent six years as a high school principal, wrote a book about his experience as a Teach For America corps member in Mississippi entitled, “In the Deep Heart’s Core,” and served as a senior education advisor to President Obama. He holds degrees from Yale College, the Harvard Graduate School of Education, and the Yale Law School and was named to Time Magazine’s list of “40 Under 40 Political Leaders” and Forbes’ list of “America’s Seven Most Influential Educators.”

He’s also now a 2018 gubernatorial candidate for the State of Colorado.

“I love coming back to Eagle County for the Star Dancing Gala and doing what I can to support this phenomenal effort lead by YouthPower365,” Johnston said. “It’s an event that shows what can happen when a community comes together, no matter their background or preferred politics, to support programming that’s proven to improve the well-being of young people. It also happens to be one of the most entertaining events of the year.”

Perhaps no one will be working harder in preparation for this year’s event than the 90-year-old Simpson, who plans to show he can light up the dance floor with all the verve and vigor of a teenager.

“I have an advantage: I have a dance club in my living room!” said Simpson, who is a permanent resident of the Sonnenalp Hotel in Vail, where he is known to initiate impromptu late-night rehearsal sessions. Introduced to the Vail Valley Foundation’s YouthPower365 by late friend Steve Fossett, Simpson said he is dedicated to supporting the next generation.

Even with his built-in advantage, Simpson has a dedicated corps of dancers lined up to dazzle and entertain the audience when the Star Dancing Gala gets under way July 19.


About YouthPower365:

The Vail Valley Foundation’s YouthPower365 (formerly known as the Youth Foundation) has a mission to provide extended learning year-round that inspires, educates and empowers the youth and families of Eagle County from cradle to career. YouthPower365 provides more than 4,200 local children with focused early childhood, K-12, and scholarship programs that aspire to create success for every child.

About the Vail Valley Foundation

The Vail Valley Foundation is a non-profit with the mission to enhance and sustain the spirit of the Vail Valley by providing leadership in educational, athletic and cultural endeavors. The organization is known for its work in education via YouthPower365, which provides programming to more than 4,000 local children with early childhood, K-12, and scholarship programs. The Vail Valley Foundation also provides the Vail Valley with several of its most treasured annual events, such as the GoPro Mountain Games, the EverBank America’s Winter Opening, the Audi Birds of Prey World Cup races, and the Vail Dance Festival. The Vail Valley Foundation led the effort to bring the Alpine World Ski Championships to Vail and Beaver Creek in 1989, 1999, and 2015. It also owns and operates the Vilar Performing Arts Center in Beaver Creek Village, and the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater in Vail. Through these and other venues, the Vail Valley Foundation brings dynamic performing arts, music, culture, and dance programming to the Vail Valley.

Visit to learn more.

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