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Dancing with the Vernon Stars returns after 5-year interlude

Dance couples are already holding fundraising events for the North Okanagan Hospice Society
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Drs. Aisha Manji and Nicholas Half’s cha-cha-cha routine helped them win two awards at the 12th annual Dancing With the Vernon Stars event, which raised more than $178,000 for the North Okanagan Hospice Society. (Sproing Creative photo)

A signature hospice fundraiser is two-stepping its way back to Vernon after a five-year hiatus.

Dancing with the Vernon Stars — a fundraiser for the North Okanagan Hospice Society — was last held in 2019, with the event sidelined by the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 and subsequent years.

Lisa Matthews, executive director of the hospice society, said Dancing with the Vernon Stars is returning this September due to popular demand, and it will mark a significant milestone.

“It’s our 40th birthday and one of the bits of feedback we had from the community is that they really love Dancing with the Vernon Stars,” she told The Morning Star. “It was such a well-loved event, we decided to bring it back.”

The event’s grand finale, where dance couples showcase their moves, will take place on Sept. 28, and the dancers have already started their fundraising campaigns.

Last month, a lively kick-off event at City Dance in Vernon brought together all of the dancing couples, setting the stage for their upcoming dance lessons and fundraising efforts.

Team Flirty Dancing, comprised of Ryan Sheepwash and Kris Fuller, are paired up to take part in the event.

“We wanted to create a sense of fun, and the play on words to the movie ‘Dirty Dancing’ seemed too perfect,’ said Sheepwash, owner of TMS.

Fuller, a local event coordinator, added: “We have to choose our song and style of dance this week so we can start choreography. We’ve had two lessons together to learn the basics and it’s going very well … except for when I take over and try to lead!”

Before the big dance, Sheepwash and Fuller are holding a fundraising event at Marten Brewing Company. People are invited to come out for a burger and beer night at the brewery on June 4. There will be a few simple games, a silent auction and a special sneak peek at the pair’s dance skills so far. Tickets are $30, which includes a burger, beer, tax and tip.

Tickets are available on Eventbrite.

Ten couples are taking part in Dancing with the Vernon Stars. Dance couples are encouraged to fundraise and bring attention to hospice over the coming months.

The dancers for 2024 are:

• Rebecca and Sophia Barton

• Fiona Blacquier and Rob Frank

• Teresa Sanders and Kari Sargent

• Ginny and Peter Scott

• Vinil Sood and Mallika Satti

• Aaron and Michelle Volpatti

• Elle James and Jason Kankam

• Brent and Susie Helland

• Katie and Stefan Schneider

• Kris Fuller and Ryan Sheepwash

“We are truly grateful to have such an extraordinary lineup of dancers joining us this year,” said Matthews. “Their energy, creativity, and passion promise to make this year’s event an unparalleled success.”

After five months of dance lessons and community fundraising, the event will culminate wit ha grand performance and seated dinner on Saturday, Sept. 28, at the Creekside Auditorium in the Vernon Recreation Centre. Tickets will go on sale in June and are expected to sell out.

Follow Fuller and Sheepwash’s Facebook page, where the couple posts dance memes, polls and their matching outfits.

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Brendan Shykora

About the Author: Brendan Shykora

I started as a carrier at the age of 8. In 2019 graduated from the Master of Journalism program at Carleton University.
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