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Local Organization Gears Up For 5th Annual Dancing With The Philadelphia Stars

(Dr. Vera Tolbert with partner Paul at Take the Lead dance studio in West Philadelphia. Credit: Cherri Gregg)

(Dr. Vera Tolbert with partner Paul at Take the Lead dance studio in West Philadelphia. Credit: Cherri Gregg)

Gregg_Cherrie--NEW Cherri Gregg
Cherri Gregg is the community affairs reporter for KYW Newsr...
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By Community Affairs Reporter Cherri Gregg

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – The 5th Annual Dancing with the Philadelphia Stars is geared up to take place.

The ballroom dance competition pits Philadelphia notables against one another to raise money for the Sickle Cell Disease Association of America.

“I thought I could dance until I got here,” says Dr. Vera Tolbert, laughing. “I’m trying to remember all the steps that Paul has been teaching me.”

Tolbert is one of nine notable Philadelphians who have laced up their dance shoes to boogie for sickle cell anemia. They each have been paired with a dance instructor provided by Take the Lead dance studio in West Philadelphia.

“I’m going to try to do the Samba because it’s close to what I’m used to being that I’m from Africa,” she says. “The Brazilians and Africans use a lot of drums and have a lot of movement of the hips.”

Dancing with the Philadelphia Stars is a black tie affair that will include a jazz ensemble, dinner and a dance competition.

This year 400 people are expected to pack the Crystal Tea Room in Center City, all to raise money for sickle cell anemia.

“I have a few cousins that are suffering from sickle cell anemia,” says Tolbert. “So I am dancing for them. This is my tribute.”

“It’s a hot event,” says Zemoria Brandon (below), administrator for the Philadelphia Chapter of the Sickle Cell Disease Association of America. “We used to have to ask people to be a part of the event, now people are coming to us.”

(Zemoria Brandon, administrator of sickle cell disease association of America, Philadelphia chapter. Credit: Cherri Gregg)

(Zemoria Brandon, administrator of sickle cell disease association of America, Philadelphia chapter. Credit: Cherri Gregg)


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Brandon says the money will help families dealing with the day-to-day complications of sickle cell, which is now a global disease.

“African Americans are affected in the greatest number,” says Brandon. “But the second largest group is Latinos, and then we have Native Americans, then we have people that are Mediterranean Whites and people with Greek ancestry.”

The event takes place on April 21st.

For more info or for tickets go to dancingwiththephiladelphiastars.com.