If Edward Van Ornum's father were given an option between attending a party or cutting off his hand, he'd probably ask, "Which hand?"
Growing up, Van Ornum, of Newport Beach, found that he similarly had little social life. He'd go to school, followed by work and then return home. The pattern would be repeated the next day.
Deciding he didn't want to become a hermit, he picked up dance. In the more than three decades since, he's mastered the waltz, foxtrot, cha cha, samba and hustle, and eventually became a teacher, at studios in Newport Beach and Costa Mesa.
Come Saturday, the 55-year-old will take the stage with Debbie Stocker of Shinoda Design Center, whom he has known for more than 10 years. The duo will perform a 2 1/2-minute routine comprising Argentine and international tango at the Golden West College Foundation's 17th annual "Dancing for the Stars" fundraiser at 5:30 p.m. at the Hilton Waterfront Beach Resort.
Five couples will participate, including former Huntington Beach Mayor Shirley Dettloff and her husband, Bob, and Councilman Joe Carchio and his fiancee, Judith Rosser.
"I knew Debbie wanted to support the college, and I wanted to support her supporting the college," Van Ornum remarked. "I'm happy when dancing can be used as something other than livelihood and can be of help to [someone]."
According to the foundation's director, Bruce Berman, all proceeds from the upcoming event will benefit scholarships and programs for students. The funds will also go toward creating an endowment, which staff and faculty members can apply to for mini-grants to aid professional development, purchase classroom materials and more.
"A lot of galas that people go to are very formal in nature," he remarked. "This is one where people can come and have fun. Not only are they donating money, either through the purchase of tickets or auction items, but they're also having a good time."
The fundraiser, which Berman said will allow student leaders to mingle with and thank donors, will kick off with a silent auction. Tickets to sporting events, theater shows and winery tours, a holiday in a Big Bear cabin and trips to Hawaii and New York City are a few items up for grabs. The black-tie event's title sponsor, Elmore Toyota, has donated a 2015 Scion FRS sports car, and attendees can purchase a $100 ticket to be included in the raffle.
This is the largest fundraiser organized by the educational institution and will be sold out this year with 350 attendees, noted Berman, who is thrilled by the way community members have turned out to back Golden West.
"It makes me feel wonderful because it reflects and reinforces the importance the community places in Golden West College and the positive impact the college has on the communities it serves," he said.
Guests will dine in the ballroom, where they will also watch the "Dancing for the Stars" performances. Although it is an exhibition, not a competition, the five pairs will receive tongue-in-cheek judging and comments by Mayor Matthew Harper, Golden West alumni and Emmy-winning producer-director Justin Krumb and Marti Ramm Engle, chair of theater arts and dance at the college.
"I'm very supportive of Golden West College and our local community colleges," Harper said. "I did my first year at Orange Coast College and took additional classes at Golden West, so I know personally how much our local colleges can save a student and, not only that, provide an outstanding education."
When Carchio was approached to be part of the fun, his response was a resounding "Yes."
Having attended a number of Golden West galas in the past, he decided to get involved on behalf of the foundation and students — despite having no previous exposure to dancing. He's not a klutz, Carchio clarified, but Rosser is far more experienced.
He joked that perhaps he will make like "Star Wars" actor Billy Dee Williams, who let partner, Emma Slater, do all the heavy lifting during a recent segment on "Dancing with the Stars," before bowing out of the television show entirely.
Carchio, who will perform a 2 1/2-minute foxtrot sequence, offered an invitation to everyone who is interested in seeing him "make a fool of himself."
"I'm going to have to put all my energy into making sure I don't look dumb," he quipped.
If You Go
What: The Golden West College Foundation's 17th annual "Dancing for the Stars"
Where: Hilton Waterfront Beach Resort, 21100 Pacific Coast Hwy., Huntington Beach
When: 5:30 p.m. Saturday
Cost: $175; car raffle tickets cost an additional $100
Information: (714) 895-8316 or http://www.gwcgala.com