MUSKEGON, Mich. (WOOD) — More than 50 dancers are hard at work putting the final touches on their routines as they prepare for the 15th Annual Dancing with the Local Stars competition in Muskegon. 

Mary Kendall, one of the event’s co-chairs, pitched the idea 15 years ago. 

“I love watching the original series on TV and I thought, why can’t we do something like that in our town?” she said.

The event, which is hosted by the Muskegon Women’s Division Chamber of Commerce, provides funds to more than 50 local food pantries and food-related programs each year. Kendall said its success and popularity have both grown exponentially over the years.

“First year we set a goal of $10,000, we made $17,000. Last year was a record year. We brought in to give to the food pantries $286,000,” Kendall said. 

In all its years combined, DWTLS has generated more than $1.6 million for local pantries. 

Teams are made up of one pro dancer and one or more celebrity dancers. The celebrities include business owners and CEOs, educators, healthcare workers, and many more. There are 12 teams competing this year.

“It’s just been fun. It’s been playful, energetic,” said celebrity dancer and financial analyst David Hatter. “It’s all for this one purpose of taking care of a need that the community has.”

Hatter is partnered with Lisa Jirikovic, a pro dancer who has been involved in the competition since the beginning.

“I think we have a tremendous support here. I think people over the years have learned more and more about this event and it’s becoming bigger and bigger,” Jirikovic said. 

The dancers will take the stage on Feb. 24 at 7:30 p.m. and Feb. 25 at noon and 7:30 p.m. The Friday and Saturday evening shows are sold out, but tickets are still available for the Saturday matinee.