Vanessa Higgins-Nogareda danced her way to victory while seven months pregnant.
The Red Deer nurse, alongside professional dance partner Leo Sato, was named 2019 Celebrity Dance Off champion at the annual event at the Cambridge Hotel in Red Deer on Saturday. She also won the technical award.
“I feel honoured that I won in the company of so many amazing, talented people, who not only danced incredibly, but worked so hard to support this charity,” said Higgins-Nogareda.
Money raised at the event goes toward Friends of the Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre, a group of volunteers in central Alberta that supports the care and comfort of patients at the Red Deer Regional Hospital.
“Everyone is supported through this charity, because we’ll all have to go to the hospital at some point for ourselves or our families,” she said.
Higgins-Nogareda didn’t know she was pregnant when she first signed up for the dance off.
“It was absolutely a lot more challenging than I thought, so I have a ton of respect for the women who have done this before,” she said.
“I was so determined to dance for the hospital that I pushed through and I’m probably healthier for it in my pregnancy. I think the hardest part was putting on my pantyhose.”
Higgins-Nogareda added, “now that it’s over, I can put my feet up and act like a pregnant lady.”
Celebrity Dance Off co-chair Christine Moore said the amount raised will be revealed in about a week.
“Almost 900 people came out tonight. In this economic reality, that’s fantastic,” said Moore on Saturday. “We always sell out. We wanted to pack the house and we did.”
Rhonda Hamill, owner of Red Deer’s Dairy Queen restaurants, was the performer who raised the most funds for the event.
Other performers at the 2019 Celebrity Dance Off were Dr. Isaac Day, April Ferguson, Ken Johnston, Vinnie Taylor, Trevor Sopracolle and Alex Wood.