Wild & Wanderful

Dancing With the Ohio Valley Stars: Make Wheeling Dance Again

PersonalKaty McKinleyComment

I have so many people to thank and so many emotions to work through right now.  But if I wait any longer, it'll be too late to share about my Dancing With the Ohio Valley experience.  So it's coming at you hot!

I had no idea what was in store for me when I agreed to participate.  Sure, I basically dropped every hint possible that I wanted to dance.  And sure, Bennett had gone through DWTOVS two years ago...but his experience and mine were so very different.  He was the laid back guy who eased us into the program and the Augusta Levy Learning Center.  I was the full blown, enthusiastic-but-intense version, who jumped in head first.  (Which is basically our entire relationship dynamic in a nutshell.)

This week has been emotionally draining for me.  I was wrapped up completely in DWTOVS.  Not only were we rehearsing two/three times a week, but I was creating costumes, and being a social media queen, and texting with Walker a million times a day about all of the above.  It was my life.  For six weeks, all I knew to talk and think about was this dance.  It was the best experience ever.  However...it's hard to recover from.  I feel a little lost.  Completely sad.  And insanely silly for having these emotions.  Maybe we can start a support group for former DWTOVS stars?  Because I've needed it this week.

That being said, I wouldn't take a single part of it back.  I'd do it all again if I could.
Even if I was crying last night because I missed being at dance rehearsal.  Yes.  This is what I've become.  Crying because I'm not in a small room, dancing and sweating my butt off.  Haha.

I've watched competition shows before and the partners all act like they're super close.  And I get all "you've know each other for a couple of weeks, cool your jets".  However, I get it now.  I spent several hours a week, relying on Walker and Walker alone.  We had to create a partnership out of thin air.  He's been my emotional crutch, cheerleader, teacher, and sometimes my actual crutch...when he's kept me from falling on my face a couple of times.

Have I mentioned that I NEVER wear heels?  And yet, I thought it was the best time to not only wear them, but to dance in them?  Haha.  It worked out for the better...but I'm still not sure what crazy pills I was taking when I ordered my fancy shoes in.  

I wanted to prove myself worthy of the "star" status.  So I took to social media.  Hard.  I'm sorry if you're one of my followers and are tired of hearing about this dance.  Haha.  I couldn't help myself.  The more tickets I could sell, the more money that would be going to the ALLC for their work with special needs children in my city.  And I was going to do everything I could to get the word out.  I felt like a small fry compared to the other stars and I wanted to make sure I pulled my weight.

The brilliant part about Walker as a partner is that he was always encouraging.  And excited.  I'd have a dorky and crazy scheme and would literally cringe as I sent that "what do you think about this new weird idea?" text.  I always expected an eye roll of sorts.  Yet somehow, he'd always respond with nothing but positivity and enthusiasm.  Together, we created a logo, sold koozies as a fundraiser, made a selfie poster, sold Lady Gaga-esque merchandise, ran a "campaign", had #mckinleyholloway2016 and #makewheelingdanceagain as our own personal hashtags, and made hysterical and awesome glasses for our supporters to wear during the actual dance event.

Walker and I walked away with a 1st Runner Up trophy.  And we couldn't be happier with the results.  Taking second place to Claire and Jake was more than enough for us.  Their dance was awesome and we worked our asses off.  If there was anyone I'd lose to, it'd be those two.  

Plus!  Hello second place?!?  That's something to celebrate!!

I am insanely proud of Walker.  Not only is he one of the hardest workers I've had the pleasure of working with, but he's also one of the most supportive and positive people I've come into contact with.  He has so much energy and I am honored that I was able to be partnered with him.  You can tell how hard he's worked to become a pro.  He deserved every second of recognition last Saturday.  This night was as much his as it was mine.  He's kind of the bees knees.

Thanks for pairing us, ALLC!  I'm loving having a new BFF in town.

The Augusta Levy Learning Center deserves the highest praises.  But I feel like I'll never be able to really convey how amazing their staff and programs are.  Kathy and Staci are beings that are comprised of only giant hearts.  No joke.  Spend the slightest amount of time around either of them and you'll want to become their mentees.  They are a couple of gorgeous, brilliant, giving, inspirational women (my favorite kind of women).  I read that they brought in over $46,000 for their intensive Autism based programs in just that one night.  That's a lot of money to go into helping the children in our community.  That's amazing.

Ah-mazing.  So, so amazing.  (You can see the full article HERE.)

My thoughts are still a little muddled.  It's been a long, exciting, emotional week.  Maybe one day I'll return to rewrite this in a more eloquent way.  Until then, this is what you get from me.  However, I won't leave you completely empty handed!

Walker and I had recorded a ton of our rehearsals.  Mostly it was so I could look at the videos and know what the next move is while I was practicing at home.  But honestly, I didn't really use them for that.  I liked having an actual visual proof of my/our progress.  The first videos we took look nothing like the end dance.  As it should be.  We worked hard and those videos are direct proof of that.

So enjoy!  The beginning of the video is also my radio interview with fellow "star" Nick Nash.  So you can hear me being awkward on the radio, while you watch me being awkward dancing.  SO MUCH AWKWARD KATY!

Dancing With the Ohio Valley Stars Season 6

McKinley/Holloway 2016 | #MakeWheelingDanceAgain

Music credit: Lady Gaga - Edge of Glory
Interview clip thanks to Nick Nash at Biggie 100.5

From the deepest, most sincere part of my being....thank you.

Thank you Walker for being the best teacher and partner a girl could ask for.
Thank you August Levy Learning Center for being a bright and shining light for our kids.
Thank you Kathy and Staci for organizing the world's best fundraiser in town.
Thank you Wheeling and the surrounding communities for supporting programs like this.
Thank you to every woman who high-fived, cheered, and hugged me after I showed my thighs and butt to 1K people.  Girl power was at an all time high that evening and the days following.
Thank you to Bennett and Louis for your never ending support, and for allowing me to be absent so many evenings these last six weeks.  And to be more absent minded than usual on top of that.
Thank you to my friends, family, and followers near and far...that shared in my excitement and put up with my crazy antics and over abundance of social media schemes.

Thank you, thank you, thank you.
Best experience of my life.

(Now who wants to start campaigning for the ALLC to have an All-Star Contest soon, so I can do it all over again? haha.)