Carr, Hutchins are stars in Michigan’s dance fundraiser

Angelique S. Chengelis
The Detroit News
Tammi Carr dances the salsa with Dave Mendoza, left, at the Dancing with the Michigan Stars at the Kensington Hotel in Ann Arbor.

Ann Arbor — Tammi Carr was a bundle of nerves. She is not a dancer, after all.

But for her late son, Chad, she donned a bright yellow, fringy dress and performed a spirited salsa during the Michigan Dancing with the Stars presented by Arthur Murray Dance Centers at the Kensington Hotel on Thursday night.

The all-star dancing cast that included Michigan softball coach Carol Hutchins, who performed the Lindy Hop, former Michigan football players Jamie Morris, who danced the hustle, and Andy Mignery who delivered a scorching Tango — he had 35 dance practices to perfect it — former Michigan basketball player Dugan Fife and wife, Katie, the Wolverines Trooper, who in full Stormtrooper costume danced the Waltz and Paso Doble, and Channel 7 sports anchor Justin Rose, who enthusiastically performed a basketball-themed medley.

Anna Trebunskaya, a professional dancer and Dancing With the Stars veteran, was among the judges, along with Shannon Drevno, wife of Michigan offensive coordinator Tim Drevno.

Ticket sales had not been calculated, but the event raised more than $140,000 in fund-raising for the ChadTough Foundation that Tammi and husband, Jason, created in honor of their son, Chad, who died from an inoperable brain tumor in November 2015, when he was five years old.

The Carrs promote awareness about Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG), the rare pediatric cancer that took Chad. Tammi Carr was on Capitol Hill on Wednesday during a hearing on federally funded cancer research. She was part of a panel that went before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee to discuss the need for cancer research funding in light of the president’s proposed budget that would slash one-fifth of the National Institutes of Health budget, roughly $6 million.

“This is way out of my comfort zone,” Tammi Carr said before the event. “I am not a dancer, I have never been a cheerleader, I don’t do choreography. I’d rather be talking to Congress.”

Carr put aside her anxieties to dance for Chad.

“I figured he did a lot of things he didn’t want to do, so I was going to do this to honor him,” she said, adding she won’t be dancing again. “I hope other people will take my place.”

The Arthur Murray studios approached Carr, who has been creative with fund-raising ideas for ChadTough, with the idea for the event.

“We didn’t expect it to be this great,” Tammi Carr said.

Hutchins was the last performer of the evening. She had been practicing about 45 minutes every Monday for weeks and joked with her team that the lessons had taught her patience.

She paced and practiced her steps as she waited to go on.

“This is how I feel before Super Regionals,” she said.

The entire softball team arrived to watch Hutchins. She huddled with them and begged them not to yell during her performance.

“If you don’t yell I’ll buy you ice cream,” she told them.

Hutchins showed off her false eyelashes that were part of her costume and said she will wear them Friday when she coaches the team. She drew a standing ovation at the end of her routine.

So far this year the ChadTough Foundation has raised $650,000 after raising $1.6 million last year. @chengelis