a closer look – femmes de coeur and let us entertain you

What started out as a fundraising group for the American Heart Association has grown into a wonderful group that raises important nursing scholarship funds for local areas colleges and universities.

The group started as Coeur de Coeur in 1980 and raised more than $2.5 million for the American Heart Association. They reorganized in 1998 as Femmes de Coeur (Women of Heart) and have raised another million dollars for local charities. The group is made up of 50 members who are women volunteering time and sharing a common goal to serve the needs of the community. Part of their uniqueness is that they partner with existing organizations to accomplish their mission. The sharing of resources allows Femmes de Coeur to provide help to a larger community audience.

Each year, Femmes de Coeur hosts an event, Let Us Entertain You!, a dance challenge full of dancing and music. Funds raised at the event go to support Adventist University of Health Sciences, Seminole State College, UCF College of Nursing and Valencia College. The event features a professional dance show including a dancing challenge by local celebrities. Additionally, faculty from each participating school are paired with a dance professional for the challenge.

People vote with their dollars and competitors do quite a good job fundraising and collecting donations. These donations, as well as the judges’ score, produce the winners of the celebrity and faculty dance challenges.

The current president of Femmes de Coeur, Judy Conrad, shares how the event was created. Six years ago she was the event chairwoman and wanted to include all of the four teaching colleges in their fundraising efforts. Judy and her co-chairs, Doris Holiday and Betty Wilson, were ballroom dancers and after the popularity of televised dance competition shows, they decided to approach some of the professionals in the dance community and the event was launched. The faculty challenge was added in the second year.

Not to brag, but Valencia seems to produce some great talent. For the past four years, our dancing divas and dudes have been the ones to beat! Past winning competitors include Dr. Paula Pritchard, dean of nursing, Manny Ramos, professor of nursing, Dr. Mike Bosley, executive dean at Lake Nona Campus and dear foundation friend and donor Dean Maguire.

This year’s event was held on June 2 and our competitor was interim dean of science on West Campus, Dr. Bob Gessner. He was chosen as a result of his friendship with Valencia’s nursing division and their dean. “Paula asked if I could dance and I said of course.”

But he didn’t know it was ballroom dance, which he had never done before. He credits his dance pro, Jennifer Caminas, with helping him get competition ready. “It has been a lot of work, but the time has been well spent doing this for our nursing division and for the scholarships this will fund for our nursing students.”

Last year, Valencia’s nursing students were so touched by Femmes de Coeur generous $12,500 donation that they did the photo below, “You have our heart.” Those funds are earmarked to support Valencia College nursing students through the Femmes de Coeur Nursing Endowed Scholarship. We add our thanks to that, Femmes de Coeur is an organization made up of women who bring great help and hope to our community and we are so happy for our long-time partnership.
Nursing Students

And in breaking news…Valencia continues the winning streak! Last night, Dr. Gessner was crowned as this year’s winner. Congratulations and keep dancing!

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