A group of dancers kick up their heels during the Dancing with the Vernon Stars launch party held at the Schubert Centre on April 11. From left, Lukas Erickson (Basket Case Picnic and Intermezzo), Austin Ridley (High Country Insulation), Fiona Hook (Images Studios), Holly Stein and Andy Stein (Noir Salon and Boutique) and Kira Hook (Image Studios) (Erin Christie/Morning Star)

Vernon dancers kicking up their heels for hospice

“Just remember, if we can do it — you can do it.”

Until last spring, Glenn Yawney didn’t know what a Foxtrot was and he definitely didn’t picture himself attempting to perform it in front of 400 strangers.

That is until his wife, Ellie, with whom he owns Intermezzo Restaurant and Wine Cellar, came home one day and informed him that she had signed them both up for Dancing with the Vernon Stars.

Glenn can not only cut a mean Foxtrot across a ballroom floor, he is actively encouraging others to shimmy out of their comfort zones and give it a try.

“If you’re nervous just remember it’s not really about the dancing, it’s about hospice,” he added.

The Vernon couple was asked to share their experience and offer a bit of advice to this year’s crop of eager participants during the launch of the 2018 event at the Schubert Centre on April 11.

“It’s so much fun,” Ellie told the crowd of more than 50 dancers and sponsors.

“It really felt like a privilege to be a part of the event. Everyone is really supportive and they just want to help. You think you won’t be able to get up there and dance, and then you do. Just think, if we can do it — you can do it.”

The event, inspired by the popular celebrity-driven TV dance competition, Dancing with the Stars, is held annually in support of the local hospice society, which provides end of life care and support for families living in the North Okanagan.

Founded in Vernon 11 years ago by Lorna Robb, of Cheek-to Cheek Dance Studio, Dancing with the Vernon Stars started with a simple goal — to thank the NOHS.

Ruth Edwards, executive director of NOHS said she has seen it grow into a sell-out event that includes a bevy of sponsors and ardent supporters that help fill a sizeable fundraising gap.

“We have a $2.2 million budget and $1.2 million comes to the society from Interior Health, through the Ministry of Health, and we fundraise $600,000 of the shortfall,” Edwards explained.

“So this event helps us a lot.”

The NOHS’s catchment area covers Vernon to Salmon Arm and Falkland to Cherryville. Each year the society supports more than 200 people and their families.

This year the event will feature 11 dance couples representing 17 local businesses. Dancers will hit the floor of the Vernon Lodge on Sept. 28 with the goal of raising $130,000 in support of the hospice society.

To prepare for their performance, each pair will receive coaching from professional dancers Heather Stranks and Jens Goerner of City Dance, Tracy Kaye Holly of TKH Dance Co., and Olivia Grayce of SoDance.

This year’s star-studded line-up includes; Susie and Brent Helland (Nucerity), Melanie King (Century 21 and Mel’s Mainstreet Pizza) and David Schaefer (Davidson Pringle Lawyers), David Scarlatescu and Beatrice Weir (The Sprouted Fig), Sarah Moorhouse (Okanagan Restoration) and Darcy Helmle (Pacific Coastcom – Telus), Jaye Coward and Sean Ling (Farmbound Organic Produce), Fiona Hook and Kira Hook (Images Studios), Lukas Erickson (Basket Case Picnic and Intermezzo) and Austin Ridley (High Country Insulation), Holly Stein and Andy Stein (Noir Salon and Boutique), Joe Deuling and Theresa Deuling (Deuling & Co.), Brittany Wright and Nicolas Jacob (Nicholas Jacob, Barrister and Solicitor), Kristi Bieber (30 Minute Hit) and Aaron Nasipayko (Sun Life Financial).

At nine years old, Kira Hook will be the youngest of the 22 dancers to perform in September, but her mother and dance partner Fiona said she’s far from being the least experienced.

“Kira’s been taking dance lessons since she was four-years-old, ” Hook said. “So she’s really excited to be part of this. she’s already giving the other dancers tips.”

Hook said, unlike her daughter, she has “two left feet,” but she’s happy to take a cue from the Yawneys and help out a charity that is “near and dear” to her.

“Plus, it’s family time. It’s nice to do one-on-one things together and this is a great thing for Kira and I to do.”

All dance couples are asked to raise $5,000 for Hospice. Anyone who would like to become involved as a sponsor or to support one of the dance couples is asked to contact North Okanagan Hospice Society at 250-503-1800 or visit their website nohs.ca/

 

Former Dancing with the Vernon Stars participants, Ellie and Glenn Yawney share their experience with the fundraiser with this year’s participants at a launch event held at the Schubert Centre on April 11. (Erin Christie/Morning Star)

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