A few nimble dancers and their willing but not necessarily able partners are getting ready to shimmy and shake and kick up a little more dough for the Red Deer Hospice Society.
The organization’s 2012 Celebrity Dance-off was such a hit in March, organizers are confident that it will continue to be one of their most popular and lucrative fundraisers. The inaugural event raised $180,000 for the Red Deer Hospice, which needs about $750,000 a year to operate.
The 2013 cast includes a star-studded gallery of local leaders, paired up with professional dance instructors who will prime them up for the next event, set for March 15.
Included in the celebrity cast are two local women who have witnessed the Hospice at work. 2009 Citizen of the Year Lyn Radford and garden centre owner Gloria Beck both have had family members served at the hospice, which provides as much peace and comfort as possible for people who are nearing the end of life.
Radford is paired with dance instructor Andrew Opyrchal while Beck will work with Dale Tosczak.
Also on the roster are City Councillor Tara Veer and dance instructor Dean Stroeder, Radio host Tera Lee and Brett Speight, retired lawyer and former MLA Jim McPherson with Janelle Marshall, funeral director Gordon Mathers with Jodi Liptak and realtor Dusty Smith with Amanda Fleet.
Dance instructor Natalie Brooks, owner of the host studio and winner of the first dance-off with Red Deer Fire Chief Jack MacDonald, is paired this year with Red Deer home builder Terry Loewen.
Christina Moore, chair of the cabinet charged with organizing the 2013 Gala, said each celebrity is asked to approach friends and businesses for a total of at least $10,000 in donations, although she anticipates they will all exceed that goal.
Training for the dance-off includes 10 free dance lessons, with the celebrities to cover additional instruction on their own if they wish.
The winning team gets bragging rights and a trophy mirror ball.
Marion Cloutier, program and fundraising co-ordinator for the Hospice Society, told the gathering during the sneak peak on Sunday that the format for the annual gala was changed to help attract more attention and raise more support, including encouraging the volunteer celebrities to rely more heavily on social media in their fundraising efforts.
Each celebrity dancer is encouraged to set up a web page and will have access to expertise through the Hospice Society, said Cloutier.