Ashley Williams and Nikki DeLoach, two of Hallmark Channel’s longtime stars, are throwing a huge dance party in Nashville on November 12, 2023, and everyone’s invited — including many of the so-called “Hunks of Hallmark” they’ve co-starred with over the years.
The actresses took part in several Instagram Live sessions over the weekend — including chats with popular Hallmark actors Benjamin Ayres and Kristoffer Polaha — to share details of the event with fans and talk abut their ultimate goal with the party, which is to raise funds for the Alzheimer’s Association, an organization near and dear to both of them. They’ve recruited many of their Hallmark colleagues to participate and even joked that they’re sure Andrew Walker will go shirtless at some point during the evening, like he did in the opening scene of “Three Wise Men and a Baby.”
Dance Party to End ALZ is a Labor of Love for Hallmark Stars
The Dance Party to End ALZ was founded by Williams’ sister and fellow actress Kimberly Williams-Paisley six years ago and together, with their brother Jay, they have raised $1.8 million through the event for research grants devoted to treating and preventing various types of dementia.
The Williams siblings, along with their dad, went through a long journey of caregiving and grief as their mom Linda suffered secretly from a form of dementia called primary progressive aphasia, according to Brain & Life, until her death in November 2016.
On September 29, Williams and DeLoach announced via an Instagram Live that the two of them will co-host this year’s dance party together. DeLoach lost her dad in 2021 to another form of dementia, Pick’s disease, a form of frontotemporal dementia.
“As many of you guys know, Ashley is like my sister and I love her so much,” DeLoach gushed. “And we are gonna have so much fun and we’re gonna do a lot of silly things. Most importantly, we’re gonna raise a lot of money and awareness for Alzheimer’s.”
The Dance to End ALZ is held each year at the legendary Wildhorse Saloon in downtown Nashville, well-known musicians perform covers for the crowd to dance to, with this year centering around hits of the early 2000s. Williams and DeLoach said this year’s performers will include Hallmark actress and musician Alicia Witt as well as actress Erin Cahill‘s musician husband, Paul Freeman.
As far as Hallmark heartthrobs go, Wes Brown is also part of the lineup, an announcement that had DeLoach and Williams swooning.
DeLoach said, “Who does not love Wes Brown? I don’t know one human being on planet Earth who doesn’t. I love him so much!”
“He’s just a tall drink of water,” Williams chimed in.
“And also grounded, down-to-earth, he builds things, and he also plays the guitar and sings,” DeLoach said, adding that he’ll release a new Christmas album later this year.
“And then we have our very own Andrew Walker,” Williams exclaimed. “And I don’t want to make it awkward, but do you think we can get him on stage to take his shirt off?”
DeLoach, who co-stars with Walker in the “Curious Caterer” mystery franchise, immediately laughed and said, “Yeah. Easily. He’s always taking his shirt off.”
“I mean I recognize that that’s inappropriate,” Williams joked. “If he said that to me, I would be like, ‘Don’t talk to a woman like that!'”
Smirking, DeLoach replied, “Are you kidding? He loves it. He’s so ready to take his shirt off at any moment!”
Benjamin Ayres’ Romance University Giving Fans a Chance to Dance With Him & Fellow Hallmark Stars
When Williams and DeLoach reached out to Hallmark colleagues to help promote their upcoming event, Ayres was happy to not only share the event but also get the charity movement he launched in early 2023, Romance University, involved in the fun.
On a break from filming his upcoming Hallmark Christmas movie, Ayres hosted an Instagram Live with Williams and DeLoach on October 1, sharing details of his plan. He said anyone who donates $100 to the cause through a special link will be entered into a raffle, with two lucky fans selected to not only attend the dance party but sit on the main floor at a table with him and his “Field Day” co-star Rachel Boston.
Williams exclaimed, “Whoever wins this raffle, I’m gonna hug them so hard!”
Within hours of that announcement, many fans had already joined in to support the cause, including one who woman who donated $1,000, which Ayres said on his Instagram Stories would earn her 10 entries into the raffle.
During the Instagram Live with Ayres, DeLoach said she loves how the Hallmark community — both its stars and fans — always come together to support important causes, and that she’s found invaluable support while facing her own challenges from colleagues like Williams.
“You feel so isolated inside of it and when my dad was diagnosed, Ashley was such a big part of supporting me and holding my hand because she’d walked the road before,” she said.
Williams and DeLoach also hopped on an Instagram Live session with Polaha on September 29, informing him and his fanbase about the upcoming dance party. He shared during their talk that his mother-in-law, his wife Julianne’s mom, has been struggling with Alzheimer’s for the past five years and called it “the wildest thing I’ve ever seen.”
“All three of us have been personally affected by somebody who’s got this disease,” Polaha said. “It is the worst. I think in a weird way, you get used to somebody disappearing slowly, so they call it the long goodbye. But I think it’s really important to know that there’s a community of people who are out there…for the caregivers, for people like Julianne who are taking care of somebody who does not recognize them anymore and the pain that that involves, it’s a real thing. And so what you guys are doing and the money that you’re raising is unbelievable.”
At the time of publication, second and third floor tickets were still available for the 2023 Dance Party to End ALZ on November 12, starting at $71.