Emmaus Judges Name Holmes ‘Dance Champion’

Dance Champion Karen Holmes and her partner “G” (Gastrell Rossignol) talk to hosts Katherine Underwood of NBC Boston and Ron Carpenito about their win at Emmaus’ Third Annual “Stepping Out with the Valley Stars.” (Photograph by Allegra Boverman.)

Karen Holmes was named “Dance Champion” during last month’s “Stepping Out with the Valley Stars” to benefit Emmaus.

Homes and her professional partner Gastrell Rossignol took the title with an upbeat merengue number. They were among seven local “stars” during Emmaus’ third annual “event.  Emmaus is a nonprofit community-housing agency.

“Although participating in this event took me way out of my comfort zone, I agreed to be a dancer because it was the right thing to do,” Holmes said. “After all, there is no comfort zone when you’re homeless.”  Holmes credited Rossignol for transforming her from “a terrified, awkward, non-dancer into the 2017 Dance Champion!”

Modeled after the television show, “Dancing with the Stars,” the event at Blue Ocean Event Center, Salisbury, featured a dance competition among local “celebrities,” a silent auction, professional dance performances and food.  More than 325 guests attended.

Besides Holmes, a physical therapist and owner of Holmes Physical Therapy, Salisbury, the other six stars were Melissa Cerasuolo, business development officer for Haverhill Bank; Wendy Estrella, attorney and Northern Essex Community College trustee; Marshall Jespersen, dealer principal of International Cars; Tim Nutter, Haverhill firefighter and semi-pro football player; Dr. Kristyn Pistone of Pistone Foot Center in Haverhill; and Haverhill High School Teacher Charlie Roche.

Burju Perez of Methuen, Mass., again served as the event’s creative director. Emmaus Executive Director Jeanine Murphy said, “Burju and her team of fabulous professional dancers, along with an incredibly dedicated group of ‘valley stars’ put on one magnificent show.”

Local “celebrity” judges were Haverhill lawyer and former City Council President Michael Hart; Ronald Trombley, managing director of the Greater Haverhill Foundation and winner of 2016’s “Stepping Out with the Valley Stars;” Victor Perez; and Gretchen Arntz, Emmaus director of philanthropy.