Katie McQuaid's Scene in Manchester: Judge's box, not dance floor, was right spot
I am so relieved I was asked to be a judge and not a dancer in last Thursday's "Dancing with the Stars" fundraiser for the Manchester Community Music School. Judging was nerve-wracking enough, especially because I had to speak after fellow judge Jill Deleault. She is a teacher at the school and a former Miss Nebraska who is both elegant and eloquent. I am glad our third judge, Scott Christensen, managing partner of Northwestern Mutual Northern New England Financial Group, spoke between Deleault and me because he played the mean judge and the audience was all booed out by the time it was my turn.
Thursday night's brave dancers were Heidi Copeland, president of Millyard Communications; Mike L'Ecuyer, CEO and president of Bellwether Community Credit Union; Brady Sadler, executive vice president of growth and innovation at Griffin York & Krause; and Deb Titus, owner of Human Capital Solutions. Each wowed the audience after only a few weeks of lessons with their dance pros from Dimensions in Dance and Royal Palace Dance Studio.
L'Ecuyer was deemed the overall winner by applause of the audience. His dashing dance, with professional Rori Dawes to "It Had to Be You," brought a little tear to my eye.
The annual gala, held at the music school's Elm Street headquarters, had all the makings of a great event - passed hors d'oeuvres instead of a big, heavy meal, lots of great auction items that made me feel like I was getting a deal on something, and a genuinely entertaining program that had me home by 9 p.m.
Kudos to Tara Mahady-Coltey, the school's vice president for development and community engagement, CEO Jeanine Tousignant, and their "Gala Gals" events team of Elizabeth Kuhlmann, Kerry Schleyer and Danielle York, for making a very complicated event appear seamless.
I am looking forward to attending the New Hampshire Musculoskeletal Institute's inaugural Safe Sports Social this week. To be honest, I had never heard of NHMI before I received the invite from two of my neighbors, Tom Bullock and the Hon. Stephen E. Merrill, who sit on its board.
When I used my seasoned reporter skills to turn to Google and find the non-profit's website, I quickly realized this is the organization behind the Safe Sports Network that provides free annual sports physicals and free athletic injury treatment for student athletes in Greater Manchester, Salem and Nashua.
NHMI founder and board President Dr. James Vailas was inspired to start the network after meeting a student who was prevented from trying out for Central's football team because he couldn't afford the required physical. Today, the network provides thousands of hours of free care to students, as well as injury prevention education for coaches.
At Wednesday's event at the Derryfield, we expect to hear from Berlin native Matt Keene who, with the help of an automated external defibrillator, survived sudden cardiac arrest during football practice at Kimball Union Academy in 2006. A year later, Keene started Matt's Mission, which has placed more than 35 AEDs in New Hampshire schools.
If you know a student athlete 11 years old or older in need of a free sports physical, the Safe Sports Network is offering one in Salem on June 4 and one in Manchester on June 6. Pre-registration is required. For more information on the Safe Sports Network and Wednesday's social, visit www.nhmi.net.
Citizen of the Year
I don't usually regret missing chicken dinners at the Radisson. But when I heard Joe Reilly received the Citizen of the Year award last week, I was disappointed to have passed on the chamber's annual event. In reports of his acceptance speech, the Centrix Bank president and CEO said there were many who were more deserving than he for this award. During the two years I served with Reilly on the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation's Manchester Region Advisory Board, I was impressed with how many community endeavors and non-profit tasks he took on. And even though he is no longer on our board, he still lets us use his bank's conference room for meetings. Reilly is certainly a perfect Citizen of the Year and a great addition to the men and women who received the honor before him.
I am glad to see Mint Bistro's cuisine and service is still as fantastic as ever a few months after the restaurant's ownership changed hands. New owner Tim Baines (yes, son of the former mayor) is working hard to keep my favorite Asian Short Rib Nachos scrumptious. If the food isn't proof of Baines' hard work, then his svelte, new appearance certainly is. Baines attributed his significant weight loss to the physical demands of the new job, but I'm pretty sure spending all day at Mint would have the opposite effect on me.
Traveling panda update
The Traveling Panda has been getting its exercise. I don't know how long he was hanging at my gym before I saw it, but Fortitude Health and Training owners Danielle Bicknell and Lisa Maria-Booth said I walked by it dozens of times. And it was hanging right next to the entrance. Several guests at my eldest son's recent birthday party at The Fort pointed it out to me.
The Fort had the pleasure of displaying my Muse Paint Bar creation in exchange for a donation to the Union Leader Santa Fund. I don't know where it will be hanging next, so if you see it please send me a note at Scene@UnionLeader.com.
NH365.org Event of the Week
The Friends of Stark Park are planning the annual Easter Egg Hunt for this Saturday at 11 a.m. sharp. Believe me, you do not want to be late for this one. The kids are fast and ruthless. This year's hunt is limited to children 8 years old and under, and hunters are asked to bring their own baskets. There will also be face painting, a visit from the Easter Bunny for photo opportunities, the mounted police, and prizes. For more information on Easter-related events around the state, visit www.NH365.org.
If you have an interesting item for Scene in Manchester, write to Scene@unionleader.com.