Center for Child Protection’s Dancing With The Stars Event Breaks Fundraising Record


By Rob Giardinelli     Photography by Estrella Chacon, Jeff Loftin, and Haley Plotkin

THE SETTING: A picture-perfect evening in Austin was the recent setting of one of the Capital City’s most anticipated events and, in the process, put an exclamation point on the fall social season. Over a thousand sociables, philanthropists, and VIPs descended upon the JW Marriott for the 15th annual Dancing with the Stars gala. Dressed to the nines, with pandemic protocol in place, the guests were treated to a night full of fun, showstopping dance routines, and, most importantly, fundraising.


THE STYLE: The festivities began during the early evening in the foyer of the JW Marriott, where patrons sipped cocktails while visiting with friends old and new, brimming with anticipation of the fun ahead. VIPs then headed to a special red carpet for pre-show Facebook Live interviews with Society Texas’ own Lance Avery Morgan and Rob Giardinelli. The black-tie crowd, always on trend, featured an elegant mix of solid and metallic evening gowns for the ladies, while the men sported dapper tuxedos and dinner jackets.


The action then moved to the JW Marriott Ballroom for the evening’s main program, where emcees Glenn Ball and Holly Mills-Gardner, effortlessly kept the festivities vibrant. As guests dined on delectable multi-course meals, they were treated to a series of emotional tributes and testimonials highlighting important work the Center for Child Protection does to help abused and neglected children in the Austin area. A spirited live auction followed, which included a raffle for a three-year lease of a 2022 Mercedes Benz C300 Cabriolet.


Then came the main event–a series of 11 showstopping dances by local celebrities and philanthropists and their professional dance partners that frequently brought the crowd to their feet. The winning duo, Pete Phillips and his professional dance partner Susan Kirklin, received the coveted mirror ball trophy for their dazzling turn to the iconic song Copa Cabana. The evening was capped off with dancing, where partygoers kept the fun going well into the evening, courtesy of tunes by DJ David Garza.


THE PURPOSE: The event, chaired by Julie Jumonville and Jenny Mason, raised over $2 million for the Center for Child Protection, a nationally accredited children’s advocacy center. In 2020, the center provided over 1,700 forensic interviews, counseling, medical examinations, and interventions to help children in Central Texas begin the healing process from abuse and neglect.

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