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Stepping Out with the Valley Stars


Winner Karen Holmes and her partner “G” (Gastrell Rossignol) talk to hosts Katherine Underwood of NBC Boston and Ron Carpenito about their win at Emmaus’ 3rd Annual “Stepping Out with the Valley Stars.” Photo by Allegra Boverman.


Our 4th Annual Stepping Out with the Valley Stars will be held on Saturday, April 7, 2018 at the Blue Ocean Music Hall in Salisbury!  Tickets will go on sale in January  2018!

Emmaus’ 3rd Annual Stepping Out with the Valley Stars is a Huge Success!

On Saturday, April 8, 2017 seven local “stars” stepped-up to support Emmaus at our 3rd Annual “Stepping Out with the Valley Stars.

Modeled after the television show “Dancing with the Stars,” this event featured a spirited dance competition among local “celebrities,” a fabulous silent auction, professional dance performances, delicious food and fun!

Held at Blue Ocean Event Center in Salisbury, this event sold out weeks prior to the competition—the third year in a

Creative Director Burju Perez and her husband Victor Perez smile for the camera before they perform at Emmaus’ 3rd Annual “Stepping Out with the Valley Stars.” Photo by Allegra Boverman.

row it has done so! More than 325 guests attended, most of whom took to the dance floor themselves before the evening was over, and watched in awe as the local “stars” performed salsa, tango and swing routines.

The seven local “stars” who competed in this event for the title of “Dance Champion” were:

Melissa Cerasuolo business development officer for Haverhill Bank
Attorney and Northern Essex CC Board Member Wendy Estrella
Physical Therapist Karen Holmes, PT DPT, MBA, owner of Holmes Physical Therapy in Salisbury
Marshall Jespersen, Dealer Principal of International Cars, Ltd.
Haverhill Firefighter and semi-pro football player Tim Nutter
Dr. Kristyn Pistone of Pistone Foot Center in Haverhill
Haverhill High School Teacher Charlie Roche

And the winner was….Karen Holmes! Homes and her professional partner Gastrell Rossignol wowed the crowd with an upbeat merengue number.

Holmes said she was “honored” to be chosen the winner.

“Although participating in this event took me way out of my comfort zone, I agreed to be a dancer because it was the right thing to do,” Holmes said. “After all, there is no comfort zone when you’re homeless. Emmaus has a proven record for more than 30 years of making a positive difference in the lives of many local homeless families and individuals.”

“What an incredible and positive experience it was “dancing with the stars,” Holmes continued. “My very talented and patient dance partner ‘G’ helped to transform me from a terrified, awkward, non-dancer into the 2017 Dance Champion! The supportive staff at Emmaus was unbelievable and the kindness shown by Burju and Victor [Perez] and ‘G’ made me feel comfortable the minute I walked into my first rehearsal. Having so many family and friends come to cheer me on and support Emmaus was amazing and winning the competition was the icing on the cake.

Emmaus Executive Director Jeanine Murphy said Emmaus’ spring gala has exceeded all expectations.

“Burju and her team of fabulous professional dancers, along with an incredibly dedicated group of “valley stars” put on one magnificent show!” Murphy said. “Many thanks to everyone who gave of their time, talents and support to make this show such a success. Emmaus is extremely grateful that our event will help to serve people in need with shelter, housing and support services. We are looking forward to next year’s show and hope people will again come out to support us!”

Burju Perez of Methuen, Mass., again served as the event’s creative director and one of the Elite Sponsors, along with Merrimack Valley Credit Union. She said she never hesitated when asked to be a part of this event.

“The amount of good Emmaus does for families throughout the Merrimack Valley is truly incredible,” said Perez who also performed the opening dance with her husband Victor Perez. “How can you not want to be involved each year? Plus this event has really turned into world-class event that brings so much to everyone involved and attending.”

Melissa Cerasuolo and her partner Julian De Las Nieves dance a lively salsa number at Emmaus’ 3rd Annual “Stepping Out with the Valley Stars” on April 8. Photo by Allegra Boverman.

Haverhill resident and business development officer for Haverhill Bank, Melissa Cerasuolo performed a crowd-pleasing salsa number to the theme song from “The Pink Panther.” She said she was “blessed” to have the chance to step up for Emmaus.

“It’s a fantastic event for an amazing cause,” Cerasuolo said. “Emmaus does so much for those in our community who are in need.”

The event also featured local “celebrity” judges: Haverhill Attorney and former City Council Chairman Mike Hart, Ron Trombley, Managing Director of the Greater Haverhill Foundation and winner of 2016’s “Stepping Out with the Valley Stars”, Victor Perez and Gretchen Arntz, Director of Philanthropy at Emmaus.


Click here to see a full album of photos by our event photographer Allegra Boverman.

Did you attend and smile for the camera? 

Did you take a photo with your friends or family in the photo booth at “Stepping Out with the Valley Stars?”

We have all your photos on our Emmaus Flickr page.  Click here to see your  photo booth photo, download it and share with friends.

Event Co-Hosts Katherine Underwood of NBC Boston and Ron Carpenito in the Stepping Out photo booth.