Saturday night fever: Swinging with the Stars raises more than $200,000 for Hope’s Home

Business owner Dustin Shier (right) and Bold Dance Productions instructor Nicole Kriel perform at Swinging with the Stars on Saturday, March 23. The annual event raised more than $200,000 for Hope’s Home in Prince Albert. -- Jason Kerr/Daily Herald

Prince Albert businessman Dustin Shier found Swinging with the Stars to be so nice, he might do it twice.

Shier and professional dance partner Nicole Kriel beat out six other teams to take home the Judge’s Choice award at the annual Hope’s Home Prince Albert fundraiser on Saturday. The event raised more than $200,000 for the Prince Albert non-profit, and Shier loved every minute of it.

“I might prove that it wasn’t a fluke and come back and defend (the title),” Shier joked afterward.

“I was thrilled to know all the hard work we put in over the past three months finally paid off—showing up to practice two or three times a week and nailing this…. I knew coming in it wasn’t going to be the easiest task, so like everything in my life, I wanted to do it 100 per cent and raise a bunch of donations and everything for such a great cause. I’m thrilled they asked me, first of all, and even happier to accept. It was a great night.”

Shier and Kriel raised more than $13,000 for Hope’s Home and walked away as the judge’s top pick with a routine inspired by the King of Rock and Roll, Elvis Presley.

Both dancers said they were happy to win, but even happier to support Hope’s Home.

“It’s definitely something every community needs,” Shier said. “I hope other communities strive to find something like Hope’s Home because it’s such an amazing organization. It provides so much care for kids who need it…. It’s just a great thing that they have, and if I can support that in any way, I’d love to.”

“It’s super important for all the children with their needs and the medical care that they need,” Kriel added. “They’re fundraising money so that (the children) can actually get the services they need, that’s the main reason. Doing the dance is fun … but it’s really just about the kids.”

Kriel is an instructor with Bold Dance Productions. Saturday’s performance was her first at Swinging with the Stars. She watched the event from the audience the year before, and was happy to get on stage as a dancer.

“We worked very hard and I had a wonderful partner in Dustin,” she said. “He was very dedicated. He went out in the community to do so much fundraising, so I’m glad he got a reward out of all the work he did.”

Shier and Kriel wowed the judges, but it was Kelly Disiewich and Makenna Litzenberger who impressed the people.

Disiewich, a Prince Albert accountant, and Litzenberger, a Bold Dance Productions instructor, raised nearly $37,000 for Hope’s Home en route to winning the People’s Choice Award.

“I never thought I would ever be the champion of a dance thing, so that’s interesting,” Disiewich said with a laugh. “It just, honestly, is always about the cause we’re doing this for. Hope’s Home is such a good cause that we truly, both of us, believe in.”

“The win is great, but everyone donating to such a great cause is really the biggest win tonight,” Litzenberger added. “It’s been great.”

The duo won with a little help from Disiewich’s 16-year-old daughter, Ella, who joined the pair on stage partway through their hip hop dance routine.

Disiewich said his daughter has danced with Litzenberger for years and was happy to help out. As for himself, practicing for Saturday’s contest took as much mental preparation as physical.

“It’s really uncomfortable to start—but you start with the first step and then just embrace it,” he said. “Embrace being uncomfortable. It’s so fun. When you get up on stage and feel that energy, it’s so much fun,

Disiewich also thanked the many Prince Albert residents who donated to Hope’s Home. He said seeing such strong community support wasn’t a surprise.

Prince Albert accountant Kelly Disiewich (left) and Bold Dance Productions instructor Makenna Litzenberger (right) perform during Swinging with the Stars on Saturday, March 23. — Jason Kerr/Daily Herald

“I just had some colleagues from Saskatoon come down and they were blown away,” he said. “They were like, ‘this is incredible what you guys can do in a city the size of Prince Albert.’ Whether it’s Hope’s Home, whether it’s the hospital foundation, we get behind those things that truly matter to our community so it’s always humbling.”

All Swinging with the Stars funds will help with the Hope’s Home operational budget. Event organizer and provincial fundraising manager Mickey MacGillivray said the funds will go a long way to ensuring Prince Albert children and families get the care they need.

“It’s huge,” she said. “It’s a big part of our budget, so nights like this when we can bring in $200,000 or $300,000, that’s a good portion of our fundraising dollars, so it’s really, again, it’s the people of this city who just keep showing up. It’s heart-warming.”

Even before the seven dance teams hit the floor, Swinging with the Stars was already a success. MacGillivray said the event racked up roughly $140,000 before it started.

After multiple successful years of competition, the event is now a mainstay on the Hope’s Home fundraising calendar.

“I went to this event in Regina five years ago, maybe six. It was a Hope’s Home event and I said, ‘I’m taking that event to PA,’” MacGillivray said. “I don’t think people thought that PA could handle an event like this, but every single year we prove them wrong and PA comes out and they support it. It’s unreal every time.”

MacGillivray’s had mixed feelings as Saturday’s event drew to a close. After 11 years with Hope’s Home, she’s moving on to a new job, meaning the 2024 Swinging with the Stars will be her last one with the organization.

She said it’s been an honour to work with the organization.

“They’re family,” she said. “I just knew I’d made my mark and it was time to further that and make my mark elsewhere now. Hope’s Home will be just fine. It’s been an amazing journey. All my kids have worked at Hope’s Home, and they’re all here tonight which is, again, such a great honour.”