Second in a series

HARTSVILLE, S.C. – The sixth annual Dancing with the Stars of Darlington County will be held at 7:30 p.m. on Jan. 31 at the Center Theater in Hartsville, benefiting The Pee Dee Coalition against Domestic and Sexual Assault.

Patterned after the television reality show “Dancing with the Stars,” the event is a fundraiser that focuses on the services provided by the Pee Dee Coalition.

Celebrity dancers and their professional partners will compete for the coveted title and trophy. There also will be a People’s Choice Award, based on the most cash votes. The 2019 theme is “Dancing through the Decades.” Each team has been assigned a dance style and a decade from the 50s to the present to coordinate with their songs, props and dance moves.

The People’s Choice ballots are $10 each.

All proceeds will go to the Pee Dee Coalition. The Pee Dee Coalition against Domestic and Sexual Assault is a nonprofit, volunteer-based organization serving eight counties in the Pee Dee Region of South Carolina dedicated to the reduction of sexual assault.

This year’s event is being presented by Dr. Orville H. Dyce with Black Creek Medical.

Go online to learn more about Dancing with the Stars of Darlington County and to vote for the People's Choice award at

Each week until the event, two dance teams will be featured in Pee Dee Weekly, including bios they have provided. This week’s featured dancers are professional dancer Tracee Auman and celebrity dancer Matt Nelson and professional dancer Jadah Rush and celebrity dancer Dennis Smith.

Auman and Nelson will be dancing the cha-cha to music from the 1990s choreographed by Auman.

Rush and Smith will dance the cha-cha to music from 2k10s choreographed by Shantella Harris.

Matt Nelson

Nelson has called Hartsville home since graduating from the University of South Carolina in 2009. It is also his 10th year teaching at Hartsville High School. He is a social studies teacher at HHS. He is also the journalism teacher who prints the Paw Prints newspaper and produces the news show, RFTV. On top of his teaching responsibilities, he is also the director of the musical program at Hartsville High. This will be his fifth year directing and eighth year of being involved with the program.

Nelson was the 2014-2015 Hartsville High School Teacher of the Year. Part of his teaching philosophy is to provide students with the opportunity to become well-rounded people, and that is one reason why he decided to participate in Dancing with the Stars of Darlington County. The other reason he wanted to participate was in order to show his support for the Pee Dee Coalition against Domestic and Sexual Assault. Nelson said he believes the organization does great things around the community and helps to prevent something that no child or adult should be a part of. Nelson is honored to be able to be a part of this cause.

Auman is a graduate of the University of South Carolina with a degree in advertising and dance. She is a former competitive dancer and former member of the USC Modern Dance Company. Auman is employed with Hartsville High School and is an instructor at the Brenda Cranford School of Dance. This is the third year she has been involved with Dancing with the Stars of Darlington County. Auman looks forward to supporting this event and the Pee Dee Coalition each year. She is married to Donnie Auman, and they have one daughter, Carmen.

Dennis Smith

Smith is a native of Charleston and a graduate of France Marion University. He is married to Angela Smith, and they have two children, ages 14 and 16. He is employed with Sonoco Products Company as a business systems specialist. As a member of Center Baptist Church, he has served in several roles, including Sunday school teacher and chairman of the finance committee. He is the former program firector of the Center Community Coalition which is a nonprofit serving at risk youth. During his tenure, a community computer lab and mentoring program were started and operated for four years.

Smith said he truly enjoys serving the community and attempting to make a difference. He has a passion for traveling and had the opportunity to visit Cuba and the Auschwitz Concentration Camp while working in Warsaw, Poland.

Smith said he is honored to participate in this event, because it gives a voice to those who are sometimes forced to be silent.

Rush is a student at South Florence High School. She has excelled in the arts for many years in the areas of music, theatre and dance. She has served as a cast member of the Florence Little Theater’s 2016 production of "The King and I ." She has studied for more than four years under the instruction of Shantella Harris and has been an exceptional member of several dance teams in the Florence area. She has performed at various events such as the Pecan Festival, Sankofa Festival and the FMU International Festival. Rush has served as dance captain for the SMS Dance Falcons and the Senior Performance Team of Driven by Dance Studio in Quinby. She has danced competitively in the SC Southern Council Dance Masters Association and received a High Silver rating. Rush is currently a dance team assistant and dancer for South Florence High School’s Bruin Elite Dance Squad and the Driven By Dance Senior Performance Team.

In her spare time, Rush enjoys singing, drawing, track field activities and participating in her school’s NJROTC program.

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