David Brant dances a Jive Freestyle with Miss Natalie Brooks. The duo danced its way to win the 2016 competition and the technical award. (Jeff Stokoe/Advocate file photo)

Celebrity dance event in Red Deer twirling toward best year ever

Funds raised will go toward establishing new child advocacy centre

The 2017 Sheraton Celebrity Dance is proving to be a banner year, co-chair Christine Moore said Monday.

In its 6th year now, the event that raises funds for community groups has expanded seating for the April 7th event at the Sheraton Red Deer Hotel from 800 to 1,000, Moore said.

While tickets have already sold out, people can still make charitable donations by selecting individual celebrity dancers, or the group as a whole, online. There are also two raffles for vacations underway, and a few opportunities for sponsorships.

Moore said that already over $200,000 has been raised through the celebrity pledges. Those interested in making pledges and learning more about each of the eight dancers can visit the celebrity dance off website at casasc.ca

“I would be very happy if we did $500,000 on the event,” Moore said.

“I think the community loves our event but I think the cause really has resonated with people too.”

This year they have two partners — the planned new Central Alberta Child Advocacy Centre and the Central Alberta Sexual Support Assault Centre. The child advocacy centre is being modelled after the Sheldon Kennedy Child Advocacy Centre in Calgary, which supports children, youth and families affected by child physical and sexual abuse.

The funds from the celebrity dance event will help see the sex assault support centre and child advocacy centre housed under one roof.

Sponsorship for the celebrity dance off has increased considerably this year, Moore said. Also they have brought on three celebrity dancers — including the former NHL player Sheldon Kennedy — from Calgary, and that has helped with this year’s success.

“We’ve hit the jackpot, I think. …. We have a tradition of a great night’s entertainment. All for a great cause. We’re very, very grateful.”

A team of professional dancers (the “unsung heroes”) works with each celebrity in advance, preparing for the night.

Moore said the organizing team, partners and volunteers put in a tremendous effort for a complex event. “This kind of thing doesn’t happen without a lot of hard work.”

One of the celebrity judges this year is Rona Ambrose, interim leader of both the Conservative Party and the Official Opposition. She has worked with Kennedy in the past with child advocacy. There are also technical judges at the event.

The celebrity dancers, who train with professional dancers, are Colleen Manning, owner of Studio Pilates in Red Deer; Dustin Snider, general manager of Earls Red Deer; Jesse Wallin, former NHL player, former coach of the Red Deer Rebels, and amateur scout for St. Louis Blues; Jodie Schreiner, premium account executive for Calgary Sports and Entertainment, the company that owns the Flames, Hitmen, Stamps and Roughnecks; Karen Goranson, board member of the new Central Alberta Child Advocacy Centre; Rollie Cyr, vice president of sales for Calgary Sports and Entertainment Corporation; Sherri Ryckman, district manager for Central Alberta at The Co-operators; and Sheldon Kennedy.

barr@bprda.wpengine.com

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