Galina and Daniel Labun used to be one of those couples that shied away from the dance floor at social events.
Now the Vernon couple has not only mastered the tricky steps to the tango, but they’ve claimed a trophy from the fifth annual Dancing with the Vernon Stars.
Galina, marketing manager at VantageOne Credit Union, and Daniel, Discovery Eye Care optician, were one of six couples and four singles (paired with professional dancers) competing in the sold-out Oct. 5 event at the Vernon Rec Complex auditorium.
“Most of them had never danced,” said dance instructor and event creator Lorna Robb, with Cheek to Cheek Dance Studio.
Yet the Labun’s danced away with the trophy for community favourite, while Dennis Beaton of Watkin Motors, paired with Cheek to Cheek instructor Tracy Kaye Holly, was the judges’ favourite, scoring the most points for their street hustle.
While Beaton and the Labuns claimed the trophies, the biggest prize went to the North Okanagan Hospice Society as more than $26,000 was raised at the record setting event.
“We raised $18,322 last year so this is $8,000 more than that,” said Robb of this year’s event which was appropriately themed Believe.
Robb started the hospice fundraiser five years ago and the idea has caught on at hospice homes as near as Kelowna and far away as Ontario.
“It was my little idea and now all the hospice houses are doing it,” smiled Robb.
Locally the event has only grown in popularity, featuring new celebrity dancers each year.
“It was a really creative and fun way to fundraise,” said Galina, who was neck and neck with Robb’s east coast swing dance partner, Richard Finn (Wayside Printing), in the weeks leading up to the competition as they tried to garner the most online votes.
“The fundraising part of this event with all proceeds to hospice was the easy part for me,” she said.
“The challenge was the tango dance.”
Competitors spent months learning their assigned dances and perfecting every move for their big debut.
“We weren’t just asking for money, we were working for it,” said Galina. “And we had so much fun.”
Along with Finn, Beaton and the Labun’s, the list of Vernon stars included: Rob Sawatzky (Vernon mayor) paired up with Robb doing the foxtrot; Brian Quiring (Vernon councillor) and wife Dorothy danced the waltz; Annette Sharkey (Social Planning Council) and partner Cliff Lattery rocked the rumba; Angie and Matt Tumlinson (The Sprouted Fig) did the two-step; Darcy Sochan (Century 21) cha-cha’d with Holly; George Duffy (Vernon Chamber of Commerce) boogie woogied with his wife Alanna; and Valerie Blundell (North Okanagan Hospice Society) and partner Myles Ferryman wowed the crowd with their west coast swing.
Anyone interested in being paired up for the sixth annual Dancing with the Vernon Stars can contact Robb at Cheek to Cheek.