Lauren Cust of Shelton will represent the Trumbull Fred Astaire Dance Studio, when it joins with Friends of Fisher House for a “Dancing With Our Heroes” gala on Saturday, Sept. 13, at the Convention Center in Hartford.
Altogether 23 FADS studios from New England are involved in this fundraiser to benefit the construction of a “Fisher House” on the grounds of the West Haven Veterans Hospital.
The Fisher House is a private-public partnership to support the U.S. military and their families in their time of need. It also offers scholarships for military children. This year will mark the second year for this endeavor.
Last year Fred Astaire Studios raised $125,000 from the gala and with other monies is well on the way to reach the goal of $3 million to break ground for a Fisher House. Fisher House’s national organization will match the figure.
Along with the dance competition that will highlight the evening at the Convention Center the festivities will include a cocktail hour, general dancing, professional show and silent auction. The ballroom competition will see U.S, military personnel partnered with professional instructors from Fred Astaire studios. Tickets are $150.
The military hero is described as someone who is currently active or retired from any branch of the U.S. armed service or spouse of someone currently deployed in the armed forces. All costuming for the hero will be provided at no charge to the hero who will also receive complimentary tickets to the event for themselves and a guest. No prior dance experience is required.
Each hero will receive 20-25 complimentary lessons with a FADS instructor to teach him or her the dance they have selected for the competition. Winners are decided by audience votes and a panel of celebrity judges. Kim Haidinger, director of the New England studios is overseeing the entire project.
Cust grew up in Ridgefield; her maiden name was DeYoung. She joined the army after high school and for six years served as a military policewoman in Iraq.
Upon her discharge she went through college at Springfield, where she earned a master’s and went to work for Guardian AD Litem and the women’s shelter for veterans in Bridgeport. She currently works as a computer analyst at St. Vincent’s Hospital.
Cust resides in Shelton and is the mother of a 3-year-old daughter. At the Convention Center she will dance the swing with her FADS partner/teacher, Marko Paunovic.