Menomonee Falls — The Milwaukee Brewers Diamond Dancers are taking a break from the field to come to Menomonee Falls for a day of dance.
The dance team is seeking dancers of all ages to participate in the first Power of Purple Dance Competition slated for 10 a.m. Sept. 21 at Menomonee Falls High School, N8101 Merrimac Drive. The competition is open to varsity, junior varsity, middle school, elementary, pee wee, junior all star and senior all star dance teams. All proceeds will benefit the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network.
Hosting a dance competition has been on the mind of Diamond Dancers Team Director Brianna Gasper for a few years. Gasper, a Menomonee Falls resident, also helped start the Brewers' dance team eight years ago. Though the team helps out a slew of organizations, raising money to fight pancreatic cancer came to the forefront of the team's charitable work as the disease affected one of their own.
For Stephanie Klug, who was captain of the dance team for six years, the disease changed her life not once, but twice.
In June 2010, Klug's grandmother passed away from pancreatic cancer. She battled the disease for five months. On the day her family buried her grandma, Klug's mother was diagnosed with the same disease. She passed away four months later.
Though Klug retired from the team last September, she and the Diamond Dancers are becoming a powerful force in fighting pancreatic cancer and raising money for research. Because it often goes undetected until it hits stage four, the survival rate of someone with the disease is low and the need for research that much greater. According to the Hirshberg Foundation for Pancreatic Cancer Research, the one-year survival rate of pancreatic cancer is 20 percent and the five-year rate is 5 percent.
"The funds that we raise are directly correlated with the survival rate," Klug said. "We need more money to do more research so our survival rate can go up."
The Diamond Dancers first started fundraising for pancreatic cancer research when they helped Klug start the Milwaukee Purple Stride run/walk two years ago in conjunction with the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network. Now, they are expanding their efforts to Menomonee Falls for the first Power of Purple Dance Competition.
The Diamond Dancers make a point of giving back to the community, which was Gasper's intention all along. When the team started, she said she didn't want the girls' entire focus to be on the superficial.
"I wanted these girls to have a sense of what is also going on in the world and the reality, so we do over 30 charity events every year with the team," Gasper said. "The team has always wanted to do a competition and we thought about bringing it to a charitable cause so this really made sense for us."
The hope is to raise $10,000 at the Falls competition. The event includes a silent auction, bake sale, concessions and a raffle. Roots Hair Salon, the Diamond Dancers sponsor, will be doing purple hair extensions.
Dance divisions will include pom, jazz, kick and hip hop. The grand champion, which is the team with the highest overall score, will get tickets to a 2014 Brewers game.
To sign up to compete, visit wiprodance.com. Competition entries will be accepted up until the day of the event. Spectator tickets cost $5 and will be available at the door. Children 5 years of age and younger are free.
IF YOU GO
WHAT: Power of Purple Dance competition
WHEN: 10 a.m. Sept. 21
WHERE: Menomonee Falls High School, N8101 Merrimac Drive
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