By Mary Schenkel of

VERO BEACH — Excited but nervous the latest crop of star dancers met the instructors they will practice with and learn from over the next five months as participants in the 2012 Dancing with Vero’s Stars fundraiser to benefit the Indian River County Healthy Start Coalition. The introductions took part at an afternoon get-together at Costa d’Este Sunday afternoon for the ten couples who will dance in the March 10, 2012 competition.

The occasion also provided an opportunity for the participants to meet Rebecca Russell-Gootee, the new Healthy Start executive director, and get a few tips from 2011 winner Bobby Guttridge, Judy Van Saun, a 2011 dancer and the top fundraiser to date, and co-chairs Joe Robinson, a Healthy Start board member, and Brenda Lloyd, a 2010 dancer.

“It’s a nerve wracking thing you’re going to go through,” said Guttridge, advising dancers to remember that it’s a competition, to have fun and that it’s a great cause.

“You are in competition with yourselves as much as with the other dancers. Do the best job you can and have fun. In the beginning it won’t be fun at all, but when you actually start to learn your dance it will be fun. The night of the dance it was very, very enjoyable. No matter how bad, good or nervous you are, remember, it’s for a great cause. All your struggles and tears, and self-doubt will be worth it.”

Van Saun, who raised more than $24,000 for the organization, gave the group secrets to her success and advised, “Remember, you are not asking for yourself; you are asking for a very vital organization. You are already winners, because you were the people selected to be part of this group.”

Star dancers are challenged to not only train hours on end for the dancing competition, but to also raise a minimum of $2,500. Each $1 raised is considered one vote, and is combined with the judges’ votes the evening of the event to determine the overall winner.

Healthy Start Coalition oversees the funding and services for pregnant women, babies and their families through MomCare, Healthy Start Care Coordination, TLC Newborn, and Healthy Families – IRC and Partners in Pregnancy & Parenting.

2012 Star Dancer and Instructor pairings:

The citrus industry’s Carl Fetzer with Danielle Zimmerman, a former Chrisdale Dancer;

Author and TV co-host Laura Guttridge with independent dance instructor Tom Isola;

Stacey Miller, realtor and interior designer with Robert Scott, owner of Indian River Ballroom;

Mark Rodolico, owner of Mark’s on the Point with Sandra Redfield, co-owner of Zumba Works;

Joey Schlitt, sales and leasing agent with Coldwell Banker/Ed Schlitt with Beth Shestak, dance teacher at Riverside Children’s Theatre;

Insurance risk advisor Melissa Shine with Barry Trammell, co-owner of Vero Classical Ballet;

Author and personal coach Susanne Sweeny with Joe Wynes of Desire to Dance;

Realtor and author Charlotte Terry with independent dance instructor Roger O’Brien;

Dr. Glenn Tremml, emergency physician at Indian River Medical Center with Karren Walter of Indian River Ballroom and 2011 winning instructor;

Attorney Buck Vocelle with Amy Trammell, co-owner of Vero Classical Ballet.