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Little Rock Celebrities Hit the Stage at the Wally Allen Ballroom for ‘Dancing with Our Stars’ Gala

16th Annual Dance Competition Raises Money for the Children’s Tumor Foundation

LITTLE ROCK, AR – On September 7, 2023, local celebrities will return to the ballroom for the 16th annual ‘Dancing with our Stars’ Gala, a yearly ballroom dance competition and one of the largest signature fundraising events of the year. Months of rehearsals with local dance instructors will culminate in a one-time performance that raises money to fund critical NF research and support the local NF clinic. This year’s stars vying for a chance to take home the coveted mirror ball trophy are:

Burt Hicks, President, Chief Strategy Officer and General Council, Encore Bank
Tanya James, SVP, Director of Talent Management, Arvest Bank
Nathan “Coach” Kirby, Owner, Rock City MMA
Luke O'Gary, Owner, Keet O'Gary Construction
Gina Radke, Owner-GSI, Author, Speaker
Cat Sims, Social Media Influencer, Mother and Philanthropist

“It is an honor to collaborate with the Children’s Tumor Foundation in their mission to drive research, expand knowledge and advance care for families affected by NF,” said Burt Hicks, 2023 competing star. “As the father of a daughter with special needs, I am grateful for organizations like CTF that work to improve the lives of others, and I am impressed with the impact CTF’s efforts have made in recent years.”

Hosted by the Children’s Tumor Foundation, the largest nonprofit organization dedicated to funding and driving innovative NF research, this year’s fundraiser, co-chaired by Ted and Julie Mullenix, features a reception, silent auction, seated dinner, and dancing, and will take place at the Wally Allen Ballroom in Little Rock, Arkansas. 

“Children are one of our greatest blessings, and I’ll do anything to help them—even if it requires a sequined costume and an Elvis song,” said Ted Mullenix, 2023 co-chair and 2021 Champion. “As a former Dancing with Our Stars participant and now as event co-chair with my wife, I am humbled to join the Children’s Tumor Foundation in its fight against NF. Julie and I sincerely hope everyone will buy tickets to enjoy a fun evening and support a worthy cause.”

NF is a group of genetic disorders that causes tumors to grow on nerves throughout the body and may lead to blindness, deafness, bone abnormalities, disfigurement, learning disabilities, disabling pain, and cancer. It affects millions of people worldwide and may arise in any family regardless of gender, race, or ethnic origin. While the FDA approved the first-ever treatment, Koselugo (selumetinib), for inoperable plexiform neurofibromas, there is no cure at this time for NF.

In addition to the annual Little Rock fundraiser, CTF Arkansas will host the third annual Northwest Arkansas ‘Dancing with Our Stars’ Gala at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville on March 9, 2024, creating an additional evening of dancing, awareness, and inspiring stories. With the upcoming signature events, the Arkansas group will surpass $4 million raised for NF research since CTF first started organizing the NF community in the Natural State. For more information or to purchase your virtual ticket or sponsorship, please visit


About the Children’s Tumor Foundation
The Children’s Tumor Foundation is the world’s leading nonprofit dedicated to funding and driving innovative research that will result in effective treatments for the millions of people worldwide living with NF, a group of genetic conditions that causes tumors to grow on nerves throughout the body. One in every 2,000 people is born with some type of neurofibromatosis or schwannomatosis, which may lead to blindness, deafness, bone abnormalities, disfigurement, learning disabilities, disabling pain, or cancer. NF affects all populations equally, and while there is no cure yet, the Children’s Tumor Foundation mission of driving research, expanding knowledge, and advancing care for the NF community fosters our vision of one day ending NF. For more information, please visit: