Realtors put on show as a fundraiser

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Sometimes when times are darkest, the best thing to see you through is a little song and dance, which is just what valley Realtor Paula Cotton discovered when her health took a sudden turn for the worse.

"Three years ago I was diagnosed with severe ulcerative colitis," Cotton said. "I  was hospitalized four times, had two surgeries and pretty much couldn't work for all of 2007."

Cotton said that was a dark time.

"If we are not selling homes then we don't have any income coming in," she said. "I was scared, and… at the time I was a single mother, and wasn't sure how I was going to provide financially for my son."

Little did Paula know that when she was first diagnosed, the answer to her fears would be found in song, dance and a little comedy, all part of a variety show called "Staar Night." 

Realtor and show co-director Lauri Dickman explained that "Staar Night" is the sole fundraiser for the Scottsdale Area Association of Realtors'  Hutch fund.

"The Hutch fund goes to Realtor members or affiliate members who are faced with huge financial catastrophic events," Dickman said. Typically it is a medical situation."   

The show's cast  is made up of fellow Realtors, lenders, inspectors and others in the real estate business who come together to put on a show -- a show that co-director Barbara McBain says for the last four years has surprised audiences.

"I think they expect a talent show," McBain said. "What they don't expect is full production numbers and costumes and sets and real professional lighting. And we keep getting better and better every year."  

Dickman said the show even surprises cast members.

"You don't know until you are up on the stage when it all comes together just how tremendous this event really is," she said. "We had 20 people in the cast the first year, we've raised over $200,000 in four years…and that all goes to the Hutch fund. We've given away $137,000 dollars." 

That money goes to people like Laura Cotton.

"I can't tell you how important it was for me to have people that I didn't even know that helped -- helped to take care of me and my family that year," Cotton said.

She said she was so impressed that she decided to volunteer for Staar Night herself.

This year's event is May 8. For ticket information http://www.staarnight.com or call 480-994-2787 and select option 2. Prices range from $15 to $55.