Dave and Lisa Stephenson wowed the audience with their dance to the soundtrack from the movie Grease. - Image: Nica Graziotto

Big money at Swinging with Stars

Over a quarter-million raised in unique event, the Central Okanagan Hospice Assocaition fundraiser

The Central Okanagan Hospice Association (COHA) came out as the big winner on Saturday evening as the 9th Annual Swinging with the Stars event raised over $250,000 for the charity.

Since the inception of the fundraiser nine years ago, more than $1.4 million has been garnered for the hospice association through the event, the group’s largest annual fundraising event.

Presented by title sponsor Jane Hoffman Group Coldwell Banker Horizon Realty, the event saw local ‘dancing stars’ perform in an Oscar style evening showcasing dances from Hollywood films.

All funds raised this year are earmarked for the hospice’s bereavement program as well as the group’s move to their new Centre at 1890 Cooper Road.

Event coordinator Jan Woolsey said the event was a huge success thanks to the amazing participants and the movie theme this year provided a very entertaining evening, noting that the help dancers receive from professional dance instructors is so important to this event.

“With dances performed from movies like Grease, Dirty Dancing and Saturday Night Fever that everyone in the audience knew provided a most entertaining night,” said Woolsey. “We could not produce this event without the amazing support of our local dancing stars and the dance community. Our performers sign on with a goal to not only learn and perform a dance routine but also to raise funds with a campaign team in support of COHA.”

This year, the Most Pledges Raised trophy was awarded to Alex Lambert, CEO, The Garage Sale Luxury Auction House with a record breaking $85,310 raised. The six dance teams raised over $156,265. Maria Graziano, owner of Bliss Bridal Boutique and her professional dance partner Jaime Cuberos of Latinesque Ballroom and Latin Dance Studio, won the Judges’ Choice trophy, performing the iconic dance routine to the song, Time of My Life from the movie, Dirty Dancing.

The Audience Choice trophy was won by Wilbur Turner, owner of Kelowna Wine and Art Piano Bar, and his partner Albert Ascona, a Westjet flight attendant. They wowed the audience with an energetic disco performance from Saturday Night Fever. Their routine was choreographed by Carley Bailey of the Canadian School of Ballet.

COHA Executive Director Natasha Girard commented on the nine years of success for this event.

“We know we have a truly unique, entertaining and popular event that the entire community enjoys,” she said. “It is something people look forward to, something different from our other fundraising events. This is a key to our success and we look forward to our 10th year. “

The Central Okanagan Hospice Association is a community-based non-profit organization that provides services and supports, through trained volunteers, to individuals living with or dying from advanced illnesses and their loved ones.

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