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Dancing with the Stars for Atlantic Area CASA
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Ed Milan holds his trophy as winner of Dancing with the Stars of the Coastal Empire Saturday evening. With him are his dance partner, family and other teams. - photo by Photo by Tiffany King

Ed Milan says he can’t dance.

But that didn’t stop him from winning the Atlantic Area Court Appointed Special Advocates’ third annual Dancing with the Stars of the Coastal Empire contest Saturday evening.

The dance competition was held at the Liberty County Performing Arts Center.

Dancers Beate Wickham, owner of Bee’s Creation; Jennifer Poole, a business development representative for St. Simons By-the-Sea who represented Bryan County; Desmond Gordon, co-owner of Allied Medical Training Centers; Milan, a real estate broker with Military Management Services and H&S Real Estate Service; and Maria Rodriquez, a student information assistant for Brittin and Kessler elementary schools on Fort Stewart, were each teamed with a professional dance partner to perform a choreographed routine.

Milan and dance partner Kelly Leuch of Primo Ballroom danced the salsa to “F.U.N.” by Pitbull featuring Chris Brown. Milan also won best male dancer. Milan showed off his moves on the stage and got his daughter, Deziree Milan, and son, Aaron Milan, into the act.

Wickham came in second place with partner Seth Dalton, owner of Primo Ballroom. They danced the mambo to “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life” by Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes and re-created the iconic dance scene from the movie “Dirty Dancing.” Wickham also won best female dancer.

In third place was Poole and dance partner Jarod Mullis of Primo Ballroom. They did the Lindy hop/swing to “Hey Pachuco!” by Royal Crown Revue. Poole was named the overall winner for raising the most money for Atlantic Area CASA.

Gordon and dance partner Juanita Lowery, founder of Inspirational Dance Studies, danced disco to “You Make Me Feel Mighty Real” by Sylvester.

Rodriguez and Austin Williams of Salsa Savannah Latin Dance Studio, danced salsa to “Revolcionando.”

Atlantic Area CASA Executive Director Petula Gomillion started the evening with greetings to the audience and introduced the mistress of ceremony, Dawn Baker, news anchor for WTOC in Savannah. Baker took a selfie with the audience and encouraged attendees to post videos and photos of the dance competition on social media.

A video was shown explaining the purpose of Atlantic Area CASA, along with CASA volunteers holding up signs, completing the phrase “I am for the child.”

Gomillion then gave the history of Atlantic Area CASA.

CASA volunteers are appointed by judges to watch over and advocate for abused and neglected children, to make sure they do not get lost in the legal and social-service system or languish in an inappropriate group or foster home, according to Atlantic Area CASA’s website.

Atlantic Area CASA serves Liberty, Long, Bryan, McIntosh, Tattnall, Evans, Ware and Pierce counties.

Last year’s winners Kathy Villafane, associate broker at AAB Realty and professional dancer partner Jos’eh Marion performed a dance before the competition began.

The judges were David Floyd, Jo Ann Arthur Anderson and Marion.

Attendees participated in a silent-auction fundraiser that included a romantic evening for two with dinner and a stay at the Blue Heron Inn and Breakfast in Darien, Hinesville Day Spa couple’s massage and lunch for the office or four friends at Panera Bread in Hinesville.
After he was announced the winner, Milan said he was nervous and said he couldn’t dance.

“I put in a lot of work. My job is to fool people for two minutes that I can dance,” Milan said, laughing. “But it was great. Very nerve-racking leading up to today, but we got out there and it was all fun after that.”

Milan gave credit to the Primo Ballroom dancers who worked together and choreographed most of the dances.

“We started very basic and before you knew it, I saw myself on film and said, ‘That’s me?’ I couldn’t believe it,” he said.

Milan added that he is thinking about doing it again next year.

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