When it comes to non-profit events in the Washington area, not too many can compete with DC’s Dancing Stars Gala. The annual charity event has raised close to $1 million in just a few short years.

It’s due in large part to the involvement of high-profile Washingtonians who lend their names (and smooth moves) to the event each year and the popularity of the Emmy-award winning television series Dancing With the Stars, according to the event’s founder Maria Coakley David.

“We started four years ago and just modeled it after the TV show,” says David, a Fairfax County-based construction company CEO, who also happens to love the art of dance. “We just thought it would be really fun to get local celebrities involved.”

National celebrities also join in on the fun, like DWTS cast member and professional ballroom dancer, Chelsea Hightower, who will serve as a celebrity judge this year.

Alumni of the event include WUSA9’s Larry Miller, Mikea Turner and Andrea Roane. Miller, who took home the coveted Mirror Ball Trophy in a prior year, will emcee this year’s event.

Adding to the roster of WUSA9 talent is yours truly. I was asked in September to take part, and even though I have two left feet, I strongly believe giving back to one’s community is always a step in the right direction.

“It’s really a lot of fun, especially when we get to work with the likes of Markette Sheppard coming into the studio,” says Javier Buentello, co-owner and director of the Fred Astaire Dance Studio of Fairfax, Va.

“It’s a great cause,” says Buentello, who also donates his time as a professional dancer and instructor for the gala each year.

Money raised by this year’s dance competition goes to non-profits that do work in the Washington Metro region. This year’s beneficiaries include the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, Operation Renewed Hope Foundation, the Jennifer Bush-Lawson Foundation and Marymount University.

“We have four very local, very targeted charities that benefit from this and we wanted to raise awareness for those charities and raise money for those charities,” says David.

The public can vote with a donation by clicking on a favorite celebrity competitor who’s final score will count dance steps and the amount of money raised. The public is also invited to come out and cheer on the local celebrities live in the ballroom at the Sheraton Tysons Corner on Saturday, Nov. 11 when the gala takes place.

Vote for Markette now for DC's Dancing Stars by clicking thru to her photo and making a donation of any amount.

Markette Sheppard is host of Great Day Washington. You can see her live at 9am weekdays on WUSA 9.