It usually only takes two to tango, but when Ray Angelini signed on for “Dancing with the Gloucester County Stars” to raise funds for MossRehab, he laced up his dance shoes and recruited hundreds of people to dance with him. Not literally, of course, but by reaching out to his friends, family and colleagues, and business associates, the South Jersey entrepreneur came up with an innovative and fun way to raise funds to support MossRehab’s Drucker Brain Injury Center in Woodbury, New Jersey.
When Ray’s wife Lynne suffered brain aneurysm, the couple became acutely aware of the impact rehabilitation can have on a person’s recovery.
As Lynne gradually made more and more progress, the couple wanted to assure that high-quality rehabilitation and therapy facilities would be available in their community. After touring MossRehab’s Woodbury, New Jersey facility they were so impressed with the staff and the quality of the rehab programs and facilities, they decided to get involved. As it turns out, the Angelinis would get hundreds of others involved, too.
When organizers of “Dancing with the Gloucester County Stars” launched a search for community leaders to participate in this lively fundraiser in which each dollar raised counts as a vote, Mr. Angelini, one of Gloucester County’s most successful entrepreneurs, was one of the top names on their list.
“When they approached me, my wife and I realized this could be a way we could make a difference,” says Mr. Angelini, who is President and CEO of Ray Angelini, Inc., a solar provider and electrical/general construction/testing firm in Sewell, New Jersey.
After signing up for dance lessons, he decided to tap into his network of business and social contacts to help generate as many donations as possible. For four months, he spent several evenings a week practicing his tango, salsa, meringue and quick step. When he wasn’t dancing, he was planning special events designed to raise money for this cause.
Mr. Angelini recruited on friend to open his home for an evening of dinner, dancing and a silent auction. Another friend secured use of a banquet room for a benefit dinner/silent auction featuring both a performance by Bruce Springsteen’s Drummer, and a tango performance by the up-and-coming dance - Mr. Angelini himself.
At yet another event, guests enjoyed dinner and dancing at a local restaurant. “My dance teacher Christy Kam donated her time and gave lessons to everyone.”
When the night of the big dance-off rolled around for the Gloucester County event, Mr. Angelini was ready on all fronts. “Learning the dances was a lot of hard work, but it was also a lot of fun,” he says. “The focus was not so much on being the best dancer but being the best you can be. Of course, getting the votes meant money for MossRehab.”
With the TV cameras rolling, his dance steps were quick and light. Although at that point, he wasn’t aware of how much he had raised through all the fundraising events he organized. Even more votes from the donations that evening were added to his tally. He knew his friends, business associates and family had all supported his efforts, but when the final counts were announced, even he was surprised. Through his efforts and on and off the dance floor, Ray Angelini had raised $45,000 for MossRehab, taking second place among all the contestants.
“I was stunned at the total dollars, but even more than that, I was taken aback by the number of people who contributed,” he recalls. “More than 300 people pitched in to help. I was surprised and gratified by all those who wanted to do something.”
Following his victory, Ray is still dancing and this time his wife has joined him on the dance floor.
“Going through something like an aneurysm is traumatic and this is a great way for both of us to recover from that,” he says.
The couple is very much committed to continuing to support MossRehab. “After a brain injury there is so much that can be done to help in recovery,” he says. “It is important for people to be aware of that, because awareness leads to action, and support of facilities such as MossRehab is so critical to help people regain their lives."
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