The Grackle

Observations, Reflections and Miscellany from the Wacoan

Dancing for Hope

Congratulations to our Wacoan of the Week, Elizabeth Oates

8 years ago

Pictured: Elizabeth Oates, Photo by Alexandra Vrettos

By Kaila Lancaster

Dancers of every caliber descended on the Waco Hippodrome’s stage last night for the annual Dancing with the Waco Stars, an event benefiting the Family Abuse Center. Our very own columnist and ballroom dancer extraordinaire, Elizabeth Oates, took home the title of “Best Female Dancer.” The event sold out before the dancers took the stage. For her success both dancing and raising money for the Family Abuse Center, we are recognizing Elizabeth Oates as our Wacoan of the Week.

I had the chance to speak with Oates about her experience dancing for a wonderful cause. She didn’t audition for Dancing with the Waco Stars, but when she was recommended by a friend, Nicki Wilson, she gladly accepted the challenge.

“I am not a professional dancer by any means,” she said. “I took dance lessons when I was a kid. They pair up professionals with local Wacoans, so I was chosen as the local Wacoan.”

Preparation was key for this busy mom. She has five children: three biological, one adopted and one foster child. But she was able to fit in one practice a week with her professional dance partner.

“We had practiced since June,” she said with a laugh. “We practiced for a long time.”

As the event neared she and her professional dance partner, Mark Stansel, upped their practices to twice a week.

When asked how she fit those extra practices into her busy schedule, Oates credits her husband and her dance partner.

“I have a wonderful supportive husband and a flexible [dance] partner who was willing to practice in the evenings. We would normally practice after dinner when it was getting close to bedtime,” she said. “My husband would watch the kids while we would practice.”

All of that practice paid off. Oates brought home the prize of “Best Female Dancer,” an impressive feat a writer by trade with little dance experience. She was excited about mastering complicated moves.

“I was really nervous about a few of the dance steps we were doing, and I was just relieved that I didn’t fall and mess up,” she said with a giggle. She credited her fellow competition: “All of the dancers did a really great job.”

This event was not just about the cha-cha and samba. All of the money raised went toward the Family Abuse Center.

Even though the Dancing with the Waco Stars event has ended, Oates encourages you to donate to the Family Abuse Center and help eliminate domestic violence in Central Texas. Simply visit and click the purple “Donate” tab. The Family Abuse Center works to prevent abuse from occurring through intervention and education, and a donation of any amount helps bring hope to victims.