Valley Stars hoping for major donation boost days before event

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ROANOKE (WSLS10) - One the area's largest charity fundraisers of the season is days away and volunteers are working hard to raise more money for the Salvation Army Turning Point.

The 5th Annual Valley Stars dance competition raises money to help domestic violence victims and their families. All proceeds go to the Salvation Army Turning Point, the only secure shelter for domestic violence victims and their families.

But just days before the stars hit the stage, the event is $100,000 short of last year's total raised.

Organizers said raising their goal amount will help provide a place of refuge for women and children; away from their abusers. Shelter Director Jamie Starkey said she has never forgotten her very first hotline phone call from a victim.

"The first hotline I ever took was one of those situations where victims just had a matter of minutes in order to escape with her small children and her life," Starkey recalled.

It's a story Starkey said she sees too often. Each year, 250 women and children who escape their abuser use the shelter as a safe haven.

"You never know when you are going to run into that person that if we weren't here they wouldn't live until tomorrow," Starkey said.

Carilion forensic nurse Melissa Harper-Ratcliff said she is often the first person to see victims who couldn't escape in time.

"I often say, when I feel like I've heard the worse story I could hear in my life, I kind of feel like that jinxes me because then I hear something worse," Harper-Ratcliff said.

Harper-Ratcliff is the co-chair for the Valley Stars event. She said victims she sees each day fuel her to make the event a success.

The shelter relies on the Valley Stars event to provide around a quarter of its operational budget. If proceeds don't pick up before the event, they will be forced to look elsewhere for the money.

"The money is definitely down compared to last year at this time," Harper-Ratcliff said.

Last year, more than 700 tickets to the event were sold ahead of the show. This year, they've only sold around 250.

The competition has faced new challenges this year. Losing the rights to the former name, losing the original venue and having to change the date of the event.

Copyright issues regarding the event's name forced organizers to change it. This gave volunteer dancers less time to fundraise and created more expenses to rebrand the event.

"It has definitely created hurdles. Extra time of people doing that and of course it's created extra expense," Harper-Ratcliff said.

But the show will go on. This year's competition is packed with 11 valley stars who will perform for a great cause. So far, efforts of the performers raised $60,000.

To make a donation to the cause or if you would like to purchase a ticket that includes heavy h'orderves for $100 visit valleydancing.com

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