The star of TV's "Dr. G: Medical Examiner" makes no bones about it. Dr. Jan Garavaglia says she is a lousy dancer.
But the Orange-Osceola chief medical examiner will try to pull off a pasodoble Saturday in a local version of "Dancing With the Stars." The event, which pairs local celebrities with professional dancers, is a fundraiser for Community Based Care of Central Florida.
"This is a great cause for a charity that helps place unwanted kids into homes," Garavaglia says. "I have to keep saying, 'Do it for the kids.'"
At Hard Rock Café, she will compete against Jorge Estevez, anchor at WFTV-Channel 9; Barb Scherer, a senior vice president at Fifth Third Bank; and three Orlando attorneys — Mark O'Mara, Mark NeJame and Diana Tennis — familiar to TV viewers.
Tennis helped recruit O'Mara and NeJame, but the men demanded that she compete, too. That was just fine with Tennis.
"I was angling for an invitation the whole time," Tennis said. "I was thrilled to be asked. But I did underestimate how difficult it would be," she said before taking her 24th lesson.
The celebrities can win in two races: Fans can vote for them in a popularity contest at the charity's website. And professional judges will score the dancers Saturday night.
The event, called "Dance, Dream & Inspire," is the dream of "Dancing" fan Debbie Leon, development director for Community Based Care. She staged a similar event last year but sought higher-profile dancers this year. She hopes to raise $100,000 through this weekend's event.
Who stands out?
"Jorge looks pretty darn good," Leon said. "I think Diana is up there. NeJame is doing a very cute, entertaining routine. They have all worked hard for the night. We want to make it special for them."
The fundraiser will salute Tennis and Garavaglia, who will be celebrating birthdays. The Hard Rock contest will unfold before "Dancing With the Stars" starts its 17th season Monday on ABC. WFTV, an ABC affiliate, is a major supporter of "Dance, Dream & Inspire."
"It's hard to be the 'Dancing With the Stars' station and not have someone participate," said WFTV General Manager Shawn Bartelt. "I'm just glad Jorge stepped up, because I didn't have to. And everyone else will be glad also. He's a much better dancer."
Mark O'Mara, lawyer
Partner: Yadiliz Centeno
Dance: Fox trot
Comment: "I got through high school and college without dancing. This is not going to be pretty."
Dr. Jan Garavaglia, medical examiner
Partner: Eddie Rivera