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Dreanne Newton, morning anchor for Chattanooga’s WDEF News 12 and a Lincoln County native, will be a among the celebrities performing in the fifth annual “Dare to Dance” on Saturday, Oct. 13.
A spin-off of the popular “Dancing with the Stars” show on ABC, “Dare to Dance” is a fund-raiser for the Kidney Foundation of the Greater Chattanooga Area. Dreanne will be among 10 celebrities paired with professional dance instructors to perform in the event. Fans can “vote” for their favorite celebrity by making a monetary donation on the couples’ individual fan pages.
And while her mission is to raise money to help those in the community with kidney disease, Dreanne is also using the event as an opportunity to honor her grandparents who are from here in Lincoln County as well.
“This is a cause that really hits home for me,” she said. “My grandfather, Larry Halcomb, was diagnosed with diabetes in 2002. By 2005, he was seeing a specialist up to three times a week, because his kidneys were failing.
“By 2006, the doctors told him he was in need of a transplant, but before the doctors had a chance to explore the option of adding him to a list of those in need, or testing their three adult children to see if they were possible matches, my grandmother, Margaret Halcomb, volunteered herself first. And miraculously she was a perfect match.
“The gift of her kidney added five years to his life until he passed away from other illnesses on Sept. 11, 2011,” she continued. “My grandmother is still doing very well while living with only one kidney.”
Dreanne will be telling their story at this event and dedicating one of her dances to her grandfather. She has also arranged for her grandmother to attend the event in Chattanooga as well.
Mr. Halcomb retired from BellSouth after 35 years, worked for Higgins Funeral Home for a number of years and was a fireman for the City of Fayetteville. He graduated from Central High School in 1958, served many years as brotherhood director for the William Carey Baptist Association and was a member of the Fayetteville First Baptist Church.
For anyone who would like to donate, Dreanne has set up donation stations in Fayetteville at JoAnne’s Beauty Shop and at Howard Bentley Buick GMC. Or you can visit www.daretodance-2012.com. Again, all of the proceeds go to the kidney foundation.
“There are not enough kind words that I can say about my Granny and Papa,” said Dreanne. “I’ve been so blessed to grow up watching and learning from them.
“They both played a big part in shaping my childhood and my early adult life. From Granny teaching me how to ride a bike without training wheels, to nights where I would sleep over at their house only to wake up to ride along in one of the funeral home vans when Papa was on call.
“They never missed a birthday or Christmas … or any important event for that matter,” she said, going on to recall her graduation from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga in December of 2009. “I can remember Papa being very sick around that time, and Granny decided it would be best if they didn’t come. Then to my surprise, Granny called that morning. I can still recall the conversation.
“‘Dreanne, this is Granny. Papa was feeling a little better this morning so I told him to get up and put his pants on. I loaded him up in the car, and we’re on our way to see you graduate. We just couldn’t miss it.’
“I will forever have such a beautiful picture of Papa etched in my memory. Waking up on Sunday mornings at the Holcombs … WYTM playing their popular gospel music, breakfast cooking, coffee brewing, and Papa coming through the house in his Sunday suit, tying his tie. His hair perfectly parted and combed, headed off to church. I can still smell him. I can still hear his voice. Small but very important details that I will carry with me.
“I’m so thankful that I was afforded the opportunity to not only participate in this event to raise money for those affected by kidney disease, but I also see it as an opportunity to give back to two individuals who have given me so much over the past 26 years,” said Dreanne. “I’m thankful to be able to tell their amazing story of unconditional love in hopes that it might inspire and influence someone else the way that it has done for me.
“Learning to ballroom dance in just a short amount of time has presented its challenges, considering I have had no prior training, but it’s been a wonderful learning and growing experience for me,” she added. “I have been able to push myself past what I thought my own boundaries were.”