A Pequot Lakes area couple is ready to hit the dance floor in an effort to help others gain home ownership.
"Dancing with the Lakes Area Stars,” a fundraiser sponsored by Lakes Area Habitat for Humanity, is set to take place Thursday, June 17. The event will see nine couples perform dance routines in an effort to raise funds to build homes for families with Habitat for Humanity.
With the overwhelming majority of the nine couples participating hailing from Brainerd and Baxter, Brandon and Jill Andersen will look to represent northern Crow Wing County in the event. The Andersens live in Breezy Point and own Lonesome Cottage in Pequot Lakes.
The Andersens were approached to take part in the event in the fall, but did not immediately commit to participating.
“I wanted to do it right away, but Brandon did not,” Jill said. “He does not have any background in that whatsoever. It took a little convincing, but then he was like, 'Oh, what the heck.' We both will turn 50 this year and thought we should just do something different.”
Jill danced growing up, but admitted this is nothing like what she is used to. The two have been attending weekly rehearsals at Spirit Movement Dance Studio in Brainerd to hone their craft - an experience Jill described as awesome.
“We have been taking lessons all winter - once a week - and it has been super fun,” she said. “We call it our ‘date night’ and then we go to Costco … You have to be all in when you’re there and really try to figure it out, because it's hard. It's harder than you would think.”
In addition to participating, the Andersens agreed to donate 10% of accessory sales from the Lonesome Cottage retail store from the month of May - roughly $565 - to Habitat for Humanity.
“We would really love to see Habitat be successful and help all those families get some affordable housing,” Jill said. “I think it is a great organization … We have gone to a couple of their dinners in the past and their silent auctions. We have also donated cabinets to a house they made in Pequot since, in various ways, we have resources that align with them pretty well.”
Though she would not disclose the song they will dance to, Jill said she and Brandon will perform a cha-cha-cha. The couple was able to choose their own song, but differing tastes in music between the two led to some struggles in choosing a song to dance to.
“It was really hard for us to kind of find the right song,” Jill said. “I just gave (the organizers) a list of a lot of different songs, then sat down with them and went through all of the different songs until we ended up picking one. Then they choreographed the dance for us.
“Each of the couples is doing something totally different,” she said. “We finally got to see everybody dance, and everyone is totally unique and so much fun.”
Being the lone representatives of Pequot Lakes in the competition has not added any pressure on them to perform, Jill said, but doing their best for the sake of Habitat for Humanity is pressure enough.
“I just want us to have a good showing,” she said. “I’m just hopeful that we can help raise a lot of money for Habitat for Humanity. I believe they are working on six homes in Crow Wing County in the coming year, and of course their fundraising has been kind of lacking with COVID … I think this is a super exciting event and a way for them to raise a lot of money, not just from Brainerd but from all of the cities all around the county.”
“Dancing with the Lakes Area Stars” will take place at The Brainerd Exchange at the historic Northern Pacific Center.
Dan Determan may be reached at 218-855-5879 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Facebook and on Twitter at www.twitter.com/@PEJ_Dan.