(WJHL) – Dancing With The Tri-Cities Stars is a fundraiser unlike any other in the Tri-Cities. Ten dancers learn two dances and perform them in front of the audience, just like in the popular TV show.

In 13 years, it has raised $1.5 million for children in need. The world champion dancers responsible for its success say the time and effort are worth it.

It all begins at the Adlers’ home studio and eventually ends in the spotlight at the Meadowview Conference and Convention Center in Kingsport.

Mike and Kim Adler are the dancing machines that drive the annual fundraiser Dancing With The Tri-Cities Stars. Ten participants have twelve weeks to learn two dances each. The Adlers dance with the participants and therefore have to learn all of the routines. From early morning to late night, the Adlers give their time teaching the participants so they’ll shine during the competition.

“We start from the very basic of picking music, what kind of dance they want to dance, then instruction and choreography to their particular song so that it’s unique to them. Then, of course, putting on the show,” said Mike Adler.

And it is definitely a show.

“The entertainment is not just the dancers,” said Kim Adler. “It’s the judges, it’s the emcee, it’s the crowd response. People walk into that convention center and they have no idea what to expect. Half of the men that come are like, ‘My wife dragged me here, and I’m so glad she did.'”

One thing that is not lost in the shuffle, is the reason behind the competition. The fundraiser has always benefited children who are at risk. In 13 years, the dancing has raised around $1.5 million. Jeremiah School, a school for kids on the autism spectrum is the current recipient. The dance participants help raise money, and they tour the school to see how their hard work benefits the students.

“Most of our stars have been transformed in some way because of this, and it becomes a family,” said Mike Adler. “So, we feel like we have a larger family of great people we never would have met if we hadn’t done this.”

“I think it is huge for us,” said Kim, when asked about helping kids. “We weren’t able to have children, and this is our way of giving back to the community through at-risk youth, boys and girls that need a little help.”

In the three months leading up to the big night, the Adlers practice hours every day with the competitors at all times of the day. They spend the entire year planning the night with a committee, all on their own time. Their payment is not in dollars.

“We get paid by seeing these kids develop and grow,” said Mike Adler.

The Adlers said they’ll keep dancing as long as the community wants to support the cause.

“They’ll let us know when it’s time,” he said. “Until then, we’ll keep moving, keep helping, and we’ll be in the studio.”

Dancing With The Tri-Cities Stars is Saturday, August 27 at Meadowview in Kingsport. Tickets are still available at https://dancingwiththetricitiesstars.com/.