story and photos by Debbie Miller, special to The City Wire
Area celebrities donned their dancing shoes and helped bring a children’s museum closer to reality Saturday (April 20) during Dancing with the Stars of Northwest Arkansas.
The fundraiser represented the sixth annual event dedicated to bringing to fruition the dream of a children’s museum to help educate children for the future in the best ways possible.
Scott Tassani, vice president for General Mills, the event’s presenting sponsor, noted the opportunities and inspiration museums can provide to children during their formative years. He cited filmmaker George Lucas as an example. Lucas is quoted in a brochure for his cultural arts museum as saying, “I’m a storyteller at heart, and I understand the power of a visual image to tell a story. I know how works of art can ignite children’s imaginations and even change their lives. They changed mine.”
Supporters of The Children’s Museum of Northwest Arkansas have been conducting Be Amazed!, a comprehensive capital campaign, and a couple of leaders suggested Saturday that the dream is close to becoming a reality.
Children’s Museum Board President Bob Arvin introduced Sam Dean as the new executive director for the museum. Dean previously served in roles with the Exploratorium, a hands-on museum of science, art and human perception in San Francisco, and the Fort Worth Museum of Science and Nature.
Dean, who assumed his new role in November, told the event’s guests that he already has come to know Northwest Arkansas as a place of big ideas and big dreams.
An announcement could be occurring soon about the museum dream, he said. “We’re about ready to make this happen,” Dean said.
Saturday night’s event, however, was about celebrating the here and now. Six community leaders competed as celebrity dancers in the annual competition:
• Annie Walker, vice president, merchandise execution — apparel, general merchandise and home at Walmart Stores Inc.;
• Kelly Zega, director of public affairs at Cox Communications;
• Annetta Young, director of corporate philanthropy at Tyson Foods;
• Benton County Sheriff Kelley Cradduck;
• Dick Trammel, executive vice president and member of the board of directors of Arvest • Bank and an Arkansas Highway Commissioner; and,
• Marshall Ney, an attorney and chair of Mitchell Williams’ litigation practice group.
Dancing with the celebrities were Adam Richardson, Sheila Richardson, Aura King, Mark King and Brandy Bangs from the Arkansas Dance Connection.
Walker was named the Be Amazed! Champion. She and dance partner Mark King did a spirited jive routine to “Footloose.” She also was the winner of a new recognition, the Because of You Award, for generating the most in sponsorships through her donations and those of others.
Jack Sinclair, executive vice president, U.S. food division, Walmart, was the 2013 honorary chair. Judges for the event were retired Bentonville educator Susan Burckart, Peter Lane, Walton Arts Center president and CEO, and Sandy Edwards, deputy director of Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art.
Information on proceeds raised at Saturday’s event was not available Sunday afternoon.