Fourth in a series

FLORENCE, S.C. – The School Foundation’s 2017 Dancing for Our Future Stars began with a Jan. 5 pairings party, and dancers have been preparing for the show for a month.

Voting is open to the public, and people can support their favorite couples for $10 per vote.

At 7 p.m. on March 30, dancers will compete in the annual fundraiser at the Southeastern Institute of Manufacturing and Technology Center on the Florence-Darlington Technical College campus.

“Celebrity dancer” Yancy Stokes works at Honda of S.C. Manufacturing. His professional dance partner is Erin Haynes.

Q. What was your first reaction when you were asked to be on Dancing for Our Future Stars?

A. I turned them down, actually. Jeff Helton works with me out at Honda. He approached me and asked me if I would do it, and I said “Well, let me think about it.” I told him the next day I don’t think so. Debbie Hyler was part owner of the hockey team when we had a hockey team here 15 years ago. I was the hockey mascot, so I get a call from Jeff wanting me to come up front to the lobby, and I went up front and Debbie was up front. I couldn’t tell her no.

Q. You said you were a mascot before?

A. I was working at Carolinas Hospital as a buyer, and we had a local costume character. We were upstairs one day on the children’s ward, and the characters were there. Passing one of the guys, I said, “You know, I’d like to do that one time and nobody know who I was.” A week later, they announced that Pee Dee Pride was coming to Florence and they were looking for mascots. When I went into work that morning, there was a copy of a $100 bill, and it said, “If you try out for this, the $100 is yours.” I thought, eh, I’ll go try out. So I went to try out, and there’s like 60 people there. These were young kids. They had their own music. I showed up in sweat pants, tennis shoes, basically to get the $100. I actually went to my car three different times, and the third time I thought it couldn’t be that bad, so I grabbed a disc that I had and took it back in. It was a KISS CD. I stuck it in, and I don’t remember anything I did, because they put me in the costume. I remember walking in, and it was like I blacked out. Three days later, I get a call and he said, “Yancey, I just want you to know I’d like you to be the mascot.” So I did that for six years.

Q. What are you most excited for?

A. With the donations and the proceeds, the school board foundation gives back to the School District One here. They do a lot of neat stuff for the schools. A lot of the schools need stuff, supplies, technical equipment. It’s for a good cause, and a good foundation.

Q. What are you least excited for?

A. I’m just nervous. When you’re in costume, nobody knows who you are, but when you’re out dancing, everyone can see who you are.

Q. What has been the most exciting part about practicing?

A. Erin. She’s like 25, and she’s awesome. She teaches well. I’m 55, so when I was in the clubs in the mid-80s, and it was a lot different dancing back then. The club dancing and the competition dancing are two different things, so it was kind of humbling when I got in. I thought I had rhythm until having to count steps to be where I’m supposed to be at a certain point in time, and it was kind of overwhelming at the beginning. She just makes me feel comfortable.

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