Sheldon Kennedy

Sheldon Kennedy

Sheldon Kennedy to dance in the 2017 Sheraton Celebrity Dance Off in Red Deer

Former NHL player willing to tango or foxtrot to raise funds for new Central Alberta Child Advocacy Centre

Sure, he’s skated around opponents in the hockey rink — but can he pasodoble past the competition on the dance floor?

That will be the big question when Sheldon Kennedy takes the stage in the next Red Deer’s Sheraton Celebrity Dance Off.

The fundraising ballroom dancing competition will kick off at 2 p.m. on Friday, April 7, at the Sheraton Hotel in Red Deer. This year’s goal is raising money for two important causes: The Central Alberta Sexual Assault Support Centre, and a new Central Alberta Child Advocacy Centre, which will be a multi-agency hub that helps abused children in the Red Deer area.

Christine Moore, co-chair of the 2017 event, is thrilled to have Kennedy on board as a celebrity dancer. He will lead a roster of seven other familiar faces, to be revealed Sunday.

Kennedy won a Memorial Cup, World Junior Gold Medal and skated for three teams in his eight-year NHL career. He made news headlines when he made the courageous decision to charge his junior hockey coach for the sexual abuse he suffered over five years as a teenager under his care.

Kennedy has since become an advocate for children. He’s the lead director at the Sheldon Kennedy Child Advocacy Centre in Calgary. It’s the first-of-its-kind agency in Canada to offer complete services for victims of child abuse, bringing together police, justice, medical and therapy experts under one roof, so children don’t have to repeat their stories multiple times.

The Calgary centre will be the model for the new Central Alberta Child Advocacy Centre that will also integrate care, so there are no gaps in local services for children in this region.

The Central Alberta Sex Assault Centre, which is growing out of its existing facility, will be one of the key agencies at the new child advocacy centre. Both centres will need a new space from which to operate, said Moore, who predicts 2017 will be a “banner year” for the Sheraton Celebrity Dance Off.

She believes the fun event has evolved into a real community builder that brings together professional dancers, local leaders, businesses and many talented volunteers. Over the last five years, the event raised $1.35 million for worthy causes.

“We are grateful to our faithful sponsors and we look forward to forming new relationships,” said Moore.

Tickets for the April dance off will be available starting Jan. 23.