Karen Goranson and partner Dale Tosczak danced a Cha-Cha/Swing and were the winners of the 2017 Sheraton Celebrity Dance Off. (Photo by Jeff Stokoe/Advocate staff)

Celebrity dance fundraiser rocks to a record $750,000

Annual event at Red Deer Sheraton tried something new in 2017

The 2017 Sheraton Celebrity Dance Off in Red Deer has managed to demolish its previous fundraising record during some of the toughest economic times in recent memory.

Now, the challenge will be how do organizers surpass raising $750,000 for two community organizations, something delighted and thankful co-chair Christine Moore said on Monday she’s already being asked.

“We’ll have to put our thinking caps on.”

The previous record was set in 2012 when they raised $445,000 for Big Brothers Big Sisters. Overall the popular dance event — a gala that includes a dance competition and which drew a record over 1,000 attendees this year on April 7 —has raised about $2 million for community organizations since it began in 2012.

Organizers tried something new in 2017. They partnered with two organizations — the Central Alberta Child Advocacy Centre and the Sexual Assault Support Centre — instead of the usual one.

Moore said she believes some of the success is tied to the two causes, which resonated with the public.

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.

Dance off organizers also extended the event to dancers and celebrities in Calgary, including the former NHL player Sheldon Kennedy who was one of the celebrity dancers. The dancers alone raised an unprecedented $515,000.

“It was dream of ours years ago that more than one agency would benefit. We always know that collaboration and the power of relationships and partnerships is a great thing but this was just much more than we expected,” Moore said.

“We raise money but more importantly we raise awareness and that lasts longer. … It was a memorable year.”

The organizers, who are all volunteers, will take a few weeks off and and then start the journey again. They will be advertising in June for agencies to apply as partners.

For more information about the event, go online to celebritydanceoff.ca or contact Moore at 403-392-1279.

barr@bprda.wpengine.com

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