Dancing with the Vernon Stars 2014 exceeded all its goals as dancers donned diamonds and pearls for a sold-out crowd of more than 300 at the Vernon Recreation Centre, Friday.
While the dancers took the spotlight, the North Okanagan Hospice Society is the real winner benefitting from more than $75,000 raised at the 30th anniversary event.
“Dancing with the Vernon Stars 2014 was an absolutely fabulous event. The dancers, the venue, the patrons, the energy – everything sparkled,” said Ruth Edwards, NOHS executive director. “We elevated our fundraising goal this year, and everyone involved with the event rose to the occasion. Raising more than $75,000 is a fundraising record for Hospice and we are so thankful to all those who participated. Our sponsors, suppliers, dancers, coaches, judges and organizers exceeded all expectations.”
Showcasing a Diamonds & Pearls theme, the event showcased 10 dance couples who believe they have what it takes to win one of the two coveted trophies.
The winner this year for Community Favourite Award is Bruce and Jill Acton (business consultant, VantageOne Credit Union board member and psychiatrist) with raising close to $6,540 and second place is Erma and Lloyd Main (Vernon Toyota and Interior Health) raising $6,050. The money raised is from people who paid to vote for them.
The Judges Favourite Award is determined by a combination of judges’ scores. This award went to Kim Heizmann and Jason Neumann (Century 21 realtors). The dancer’s judge’s scores were all within 1.5 points of each other so it was a very close competition.
“The judges were showcased on a judge’s platform that also glitzed as the judges bantered back and forth with lots of laughs, kudos and constructive feedback,” said Jennifer Strachan, event director with Aspire Strategies. “They all did a wonderful job at keeping everyone entertained as they critiqued the dancers.”
The judges were Galina Labun, VantageOne Credit Union and 2012 winner of Dancing with the Vernon Stars; Akbal Mund, Citizen of the Year and business consultant; Eric Foster, Vernon-Monashee MLA; and Tracy Holly, renown dancer in the Okanagan.
Along with the winning couples, the other dancers in the spotlight were Jonathon McMurray and April Lyn Kimble (A&W and Sun FM), Kari and Tim Gares (MHC Mortgage House and Fix Auto Collision business owners), Juliette and Dave Cunningham (Vernon councillor and “actively” retired), Marie and Shawn Hayden (owners of Hayden Fitness and Hayden’s Contracting), Angela and Warren Yablonski (owners of Curves), Lori and Dan Anderson (owners of North Okanagan Skin and Laser), Sarah Gabriel and Richard Beauregard (national speaker/author and sales consultant).
“These dancers committed to many hours of dancing and fundraising,” said Strachan. “We really do have more than just two winners. For this event, we all won.
“Kari Gares passed by me and mentioned she was wearing her grandmother’s earrings who passed seven years ago at Hospice. It gave me goose bumps and caught me in the moment to embrace why we work so hard to put on successful events, at the end of the day it is about providing peace and comfort at a most difficult time”.
There were also a few special items for auction donated by Silver Star Mountain Resort and the highest auction item was a wine tour for 12 people generously donated by Mary Jo O’Keefe. Kevin Rothwell was the auctioneer and managed to pull the extra dollars from the audience. The Schubert Centre provided delicious appetizers, and provided the cash bar service, and music was provided by The Legendary Lake Monsters.
“On behalf of those we serve, we thank the community of the North Okanagan for their support of end-of-life care for the past 30 years,” said Edwards. “We are very grateful for both Lorna Robb and her colleague Ruth McGrath for coaching all the dance couples.”
The event is what it is today because of Robb, owner of Cheek to Cheek. The Dancing with the Vernon Stars was her vision and her way of giving back to the community and Hospice.
“We are so fortunate to have this wonderful place in our community,” said Robb. “In March 2011 my dad died at the North Okanagan Hospice Society in a peaceful, respectful, comfortable way.”
The presenting sponsor was Silver Star Mountain Resort; Diamond sponsors were Wayside Printing, VantageOne Credit Union, Sproing Creative, The Morning Star, Kiss FM, Terra Life Lease Housing, Catherine Gardens, and Cheek to Cheek Dance Studio; Pearl sponsors were Michitsch Systems, Summit Financial, TD Benefits, NHP Horizons, We Care Home Health Services, Peace of Mind Weddings, Norval, MJO Tours and Aspire Strategies.