By Martie Thompson
A local non-profit foundation and a local dance studio recently collaborated to bring Dancing with the Doctors, based on Dancing with the Stars, to Northeast Florida. The event was held on Aug. 27 at the Garden Club of Jacksonville and featured doctors from the Mayo Clinic, who were paired up with professional dancers from Fruit Cove’s own All About Ballroom dance studio. Proceeds from the event benefited the Maya Dronca Foundation, which supports childhood cancer research.
The Maya Dronca Foundation is named in loving memory of Serban and Roxana Dronca’s daughter, who suffered from a rare form of brain cancer. This year’s Dancing with the Doctors event was held on what would have been Maya Dronca’s 10th birthday.
The idea for this event came up when Roxana and good friend Heather Kornick, co-owner of All About Ballroom, were discussing fundraising possibilities. They decided that Dancing with the Doctors sounded like a good way to partner together for an entertaining event that could also raise funds for the foundation.
“It was about a year of planning from when we came up with the idea until the event,” said Kornick. “The event was a big success with close to 300 spectators in attendance — and we raised close to $300,000 for the foundation.”
Kornick said that nine Mayo doctors volunteered to participate since they knew Dr. Roxana Dronca from Mayo Clinic, where she is head of oncology. Most of the doctors had no dance background and spent four months training for the event and learning their dances at All About Ballroom.
“It was wonderful to see how much work they put into it and how far they came in four months,” Kornick said. “They really put their hearts and souls into it.”
The event featured awards in two categories: fundraising and dancing. The top three fundraisers were Dr. Dana Harris, Dr. Charles Bruce and Dr. Razvan Chirila.
At the Dancing with the Doctors event, four judges, including two with professional dance backgrounds, picked the top three dance winners. Dr. Charles Bruce and his professional partner, Alejandra Serrano, took first place and a standing ovation for their merengue medley, during which Dr. Bruce both danced and sang. Second place was earned by Dr. Stephanie Faubion and her professional partner Jake Lukic for their waltz, while Dr. Razvan Chirila and his professional partner Heather Kornick earned third place with their quickstep/rumba routine.
“Every routine was excellent and entertaining in its own way,” Kornick said.
The evening concluded with a catered dinner and a professional dance show presented by the All About Ballroom staff.
According to Kornick, the doctors loved dancing so much that they have continued with lessons after the fundraising competition. Many plan to return for next year’s event, which is scheduled for Aug. 24, 2024 in a larger venue that can accommodate 500 people.
Visit https://mayadroncafoundation.org/ for more information about the Maya Dronca Foundation. Visit www.aabdance.com for more information about All About Ballroom, whose additional community service includes a local Dancing with the Stars event to benefit the Jacksonville Children’s Chorus. The studio also supports the Wounded Warrior Project.
Photo courtesy Ricardo Photography
Dr. Charles Bruce and his professional partner, Alejandra Serrano.