By Molly McGowan
Country music listeners have had her songs stuck in their heads, primetime television viewers have seen her footwork on Dancing with the Stars and come Nov. 18, supporters of Florida Hospital Zephyrhills will get the chance to see rising star Julianne Hough.
Hough is headlining the hospital Foundation’s black-tie Gala XIV at Saddlebrook Resort’s Grand Pavilion. All benefits will support the creation of the Comprehensive Breast Center at the hospital.
According to Foundation executive director Carolyn Sentelik, the Comprehensive Breast Center, “Will really consolidate the breast health services under one umbrella and benefit the people of east Pasco County.”
She said the center will help, “streamline the patients experience, reduce time and trauma of the diagnostic journey from weeks to days, provide access to a full physician team and provide education and support services” to patients.
While no date has been set for the center’s opening, Sentelik stressed that the community’s support and involvement in the gala is essential to fundraising efforts.
“It’s our one primary event every year,” she said.
And this year, the Foundation is excited to have the support of and participation from Julianne Hough, whom Sentelik called a “natural link” to the mission of the Comprehensive Breast Center. Hough actively supports the fight against breast cancer.
At this year’s EIF Cancer Research Gala benefiting EIF’s Women’s Cancer Research Fund, Hough explained that her stepmother had breast cancer, and that awareness fundraisers was what helped lead her stepmother to an early detection of her breast cancer.
“We’re very excited about having Julianne Hough, and we’re very happy to have been able to secure her participation this year,” said Sentelik.
Chris Drews, chair of the Gala Committee, is equally excited to have Hough aboard this year. Drews, major accounts manager for The Laker, an event sponsor, said that over the years the entertainment at the annual gala – including Crystal Gayle and Lee Greenwood – has always been a success, but that this year, “it’s evolved.”
“I wanted to take it in a different direction, have someone who’s on the charts today,” he said.
Raised in a family that valued the arts and especially ballroom dancing, Julianne Hough was a competitive ballroom dancer at the age of 9, and trained with brother Derek in London while still a child.
When Hough was 15, she became the youngest dancer to win both the International Latin Youth Champion and Junior World Latin Champion at the Blackpool Dance Festival in England.
Hough most recently showcased her ballroom talent as one of the professionals on Dancing with the Stars, and won with partner Olympic speed skater Apolo Anton Ohno on Season 4 of the show. The next year, Hough won DWTS again, this time with race car driver Hélio Castroneves.
Recently, Hough made the decision to put ballroom dancing and DWTS on hold to enter the country music scene, in which she is quickly making a name for herself. Her first album was No. 1 on the top country albums chart in May and held firm at No. 3 on the Billboard 200.
In her most recent music video, “Is That So Wrong,” Hough shows off some of her dancing skills, combining her passions for singing and ballroom. Not to be stopped at merely singing and dancing, Hough is also currently filming Burlesque and a remake of Footloose, making her a hot commodity.
Drews said that the negotiation process to get Hough involved with the gala occurred before news of Hough’s movie Burlesque came out and before she began filming the remake of Footloose; given Hough’s increase in media attention, Drews said that she really is an “up-and-coming star” and that having her participate in this year’s gala should bring more people to the event.
Drews said 500 to 600 people normally attend the event, but this year he is projecting 600 to 700 attendees.
Sentelik also expects there to be “a lot of interest in the community” and said that based on past galas, a wide spectrum of people will attend the event. She said that “friends of the hospital, board members, physicians and employees” usually frequent the annual fundraiser.
In addition to the black tie event at 5:30 p.m. on Nov. 18, the 21st annual golf tournament and the inaugural tennis tournament will be the next day, also at Saddlebrook Resort. Registration begins at 7 a.m. and play begins at 8:30 a.m. on Nov. 19, with funds also benefiting the Comprehensive Breast Center.
Individual tickets to the gala cost $150, and tables start at $2,500. For more information on either the tournament or the gala, call the Florida Hospital Zephyrhills Foundation office at (813) 783-6144.
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