12th Anniversary of Dancing with the Martin Stars Raises Over $200,000

Driving rhythms, fast-paced footwork, and sky-high enthusiasm enthralled the audience at the 2023 Dancing with the Martin Stars, the signature fundraising event of the Martin County Healthy Start Coalition.

Healthy Start, which offers support and education to pregnant women and infants, celebrated its twelfth anniversary of the popular event on September 23 at the Lyric Theatre in downtown Stuart.

The sellout event was a resounding success, raising more than $200,000 to support essential programs in Martin County that help ensure every baby is born healthy, every mother is supported, and every father is involved.

The format for the evening included a dynamic, local cast of nine Martin County “celebrities,” each paired with a professional dance instructor. These brave, novice dancers not only put their best foot forward to shine on the dance floor, but were also tasked with raising funds from friends, neighbors and business colleagues through sponsorships, ticket sales and contributions.
The goal was to win enough votes from a judges’ panel to claim bragging rights as the Dancing with the Martin Stars Champion 2023.

Dr. Brian Moriarty, owner and president of Loving Chiropractic of Stuart; Megan Acosta, former ballroom dancer and instructor turned realtor for Brokers Choice Realty; and Dmitriy Kuzmenko, owner and professional ballroom instructor at In Motion Ballroom served as Judges. Mike Gonzalez, a 2018 Star Alumni, emceed the event for the third year in a row.

Carol Briseno of Martin County Parks & Recreation and her dancing partner Jang Don walked away with top honors and the coveted trophy for highest combined scores in both dancing and fundraising.
In addition to Carol and Jang, these dancers also brought the audience to a pitch of enthusiasm: Noel Thomas, CEO of Zero Trafficking, paired with Cheri Shanti Garcia; Joan Goodrich, Executive Director of the Martin County Business Development Board, paired with Craig Galvin; Jacilyn Mikels, Director of Aesthetics at JeuneNu Aesthetic with Women’s Health Specialists, paired with Michael Chaves; Nikki Leserra, Creative Director at Sky is the Limit Events and Marketing, paired with Brian Spector; Tony George, Elder Law attorney, paired with Marianella Tobar; Monique Robbins of Pretty Little Cupcakes, paired with Yusell Garcia; Dr. Kurt Barnhill, Precision Chiropractic & Rehab, paired with Daisy Krakowiak-Wiebe; and Dr. Edward Savage, Cardiothoracic surgeon at Cleveland Clinic, paired with Tanya Chaves.

There were several award winners in a variety of categories: Overall Champions Carol and Jang, who were also the Top Fundraising Team and Top Dancing Team; First Runner-Up Dance Team and First Runner-Up Fundraising Team Jacilyn & Michael; Second Runner-Up Fundraising Team Tony & Marianella.
“We’re so grateful for the entire community who support us each year,” Healthy Start CEO Samantha Suffich said. “From our local celebrities who danced their hearts out on stage and raised funds off stage to the audience that filled the Lyric to capacity, everyone brought their passion for both the event and the cause it supports.”
The evening’s sponsors included: Casco Companies, Inc., HOG Technologies, JeuneNu Aesthetic Beauty & Laser Center, Premier Air & Private Jets, Loving Chiropractic of Stuart, Inc, Ashley Capital, FPL- Florida Power & Light, Zen Den Infusion Lounge, The Gordana Uscumlic Foundation, Women’s Health Specialists, Owen Insurance Group, Madoli Marketing, Coastal Detox, and Sunshine Land Design.

First Runner-Up Dance Team: Jacilyn & Michael
Top Dancing Team: Carol & Jang

Second Runner-Up Fundraising Team: Tony & Marianella
First Runner-Up Fundraising Team: Jacilyn & Michael
Top Fundraising Team: Carol & Jang

Overall Champion Team: Carol & Jang