News Column

Mario Lopez Co-hosts, Entertains at El Paso Dance for Kids' Sake Benefit

Nov 12, 2012

Hayley Kappes

Mario Lopez

As "The Devil Went Down to Georgia" boomed through speakers at the Plaza Theatre, Gabriel Acuna tossed Arianna Rodriguez in the air -- her red-sequined devil horns sparkling in the spotlight.

The couple and other pairs showcased their moves for a cause Saturday at the fifth annual Dance for Kids' Sake, a competition and fundraiser for Big Brothers Big Sisters of El Paso.

The competition was inspired by the ABC show "Dancing

With the Stars."

"I always knew the devil was a woman," said celebrity master of ceremonies Mario Lopez, host of television shows "Extra" and "The X Factor." His comment drew cheers from the more than 500 people who were at the theater.

Lopez, known to children of the 1990s as A.C. Slater from "Saved by the Bell," knows what the 13 couples who competed went through. In 2006, he and partner Karina Smirnoff placed second in "Dancing With the Stars."

Lopez, 39, said he likes to help Big Brothers Big Sisters whenever he gets the chance.

"It's a great organization," he said. "I happened to have been a Big Brother. I love supporting organizations like that. If it can work in the schedule, I always try to lend a helping


Backstage before the show started, Lopez offered simple advice to some of the contestants, all of whom were amateur dancers: "Just have fun out there, smile and try not to think so much about your steps."

Rodriguez, 27, heard about the charity competition through the Advertising Federation of El Paso. She is a board member of the federation.

She and her partner tried to practice once a week since September.

When they couldn't make it for practices at the El Paso Ballroom Dance Academy, parking lots and tennis courts became impromptu dance floors to test their routine.

Country dancing was new to Rodriguez, a media buyer for the Laster Group.

"We were the last ones to pick our songs and all that was left was country music," she said. "We wanted to make the routine exciting for the audience, a song everyone knew and something that was fun for us to dance to."

The event also included a silent auction.

The amount of money and the winners of the competition were yet to be determined.

Source: (c)2012 the El Paso Times (El Paso, Texas). Distributed by MCT Information Services.

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