Swinging with the Stars crowns Prince and raises $160,000

Michael Oleksyn/Daily Herald After the competition Judges, dancers and others posed for a photo at Swinging with the Stars at the Prince Albert Exhibition Centre on Saturday evening.

The third annual Swinging with the Stars for Hope’s Home in Prince Albert exceeded expectations and broadened the culture and dance displayed at the Prince Albert Exhibition Centre on Sunday.

Deputy Chief Farica Prince of the Prince Albert Police Service (PAPS) and professional partner Modeste McKenzie won the competition with a Red River Jig as the event raised $160,000.

Mickey MacGillivray, the regional fundraising manager for Hope’s Home has always known Prince Albert residents were generous, but even she was a little surprised at just how far that generosity extended.

“Before tonight the dancers had already brought in $51,000 just in voting dollars and we ran that fun little Calcutta and it brought in over $84,000, which is amazing, and half of that goes back to the winner or the one who bought the winner, but still so great,” MacGillivray said.

Local celebrities were paired with professional dancers for Prince Albert’s third annual Swinging with the Stars fundraiser. The eight dance teams raised more than $60,000 combined on the evening.

“Our professional dancers, all of them are back,” MacGillivray said. “The celebrities, we find someone new in the community every year who we feel has either made an impact in the city or just somebody of interest. We have the Deputy Chief, we have had the radio, (we have) retired radio, (and) doctors.”

Funds raised at the event will go towards a variety of projects. MacGillivray said it helps fund nursing care, which is not covered by any level of government, while also covering operations and recreation programming expenses. Any leftovers are used on the organization’s wish list, which includes items like a new mini-van purchased to help transport kids around Prince Albert.

Hope’s Home Prince Albert is an organization that provides care for children with complex medical needs, their siblings and typically developing children in the community. They provide daycare, early learning and development programming, respite services, supportive living and transition care between the hospital and a community home. Hope’s Home itself is prospering.

“We are busy here,” MacGillivray said. “We are always full and opening now in Saskatoon and possibly a couple more locations, so (we’re) expanding all of the time and it’s just unreal.”

Prince and McKenzie were both pleased to win the judge’s choice and to support a worthy cause.

“I don’t think the competition was really at the forefront of my mind during this whole process,” Prince said. “I think just being able to contribute to Hope’s Home in a positive way was really the drive here. This is just the cherry on top. (I’m) hoping that my involvement this year and our win this year allows me to a part of next year’s judges.”

“Obviously, the big winner tonight is Hope’s Home, and all of those who live there and who use the services,” McKenzie said. “I’m really happy to see that so it’s just a really nice surprise.”

McKenzie said that Prince had worked hard for the past several months to learn the routine.

“Every week (she was) putting in hours and hours (and) not only in the dance studio,” McKenzie explained. “She would go home and practice when we were done and on her days off so it was really nice to see.”

Michael Oleksyn/Daily Herald Ryan Wicks had some more assistance from other performing dancers during Swinging with the Stars on Saturday night.

Prince also suffered an injury and continued to work on the routine.

“It’s true and it has been a big joke in our group chat for the last two weeks because I did have an issue with my medial glute that did put me out of practice for probably about a week,” she said. “The medial glute issue plus shin splints, plus all of the other things that come along with doing something completely random.

“If anybody thinks that jigging is easy they are wrong, they are super wrong,” Prince added.
McKenzie explained that the dance can be frustrating to learn and Prince was visibly tired after they completed the routine.

Michael Oleksyn/Daily Herald After the competition Judges, dancers and others posed for a photo at Swinging with the Stars at the Prince Albert Exhibition Centre on Saturday evening.

“Three minutes on stage doing that routine, I was calling for a time out at the end. I needed a few seconds just to recover and I’m active, I keep care of my health and I run and do obstacle courses,” she said.

When MacGillivray asked Prince to come on board somewhere between Christmas and New Year’s, she knew the answer to the question.

“I was running on the treadmill in my building and she called and asked,” Prince said. “I thought ‘oh no I can’t say no’ but (I was) also filled with fear. That fear subsided fairly quickly after meeting all of the other teams and being able to land such a good instructor, and then it was, ‘we are just going to do this … 100 per cent, so we put everything into this.”

McKenzie was proud of his student in Prince.

“I think she did phenomenal,” he said. “She might have been a little bit nervous coming into it but I think it really melted away once we hit the stage and the music was on. She did great.”

Michael Oleksyn/Daily Herald Craig Guidinger and his partner Bethany Leahman performed a hip hop number during Swinging with the Stars on Saturday evening.

The song transitioned from traditional Red River Jig music to the “It’s Like That” Remix by Run DMC versus Jason Nevins which closed the number.

“It’s a step out of my comfort zone,” McKenzie said.

“I jig all of the time to different kinds of music and stuff like that but I never put in a show. It was Farica’s idea, let’s add a twist,” he explained.

“That music was intentionally chosen. I grew up to that song,” Prince said.

Prince designed and created the ribbon shirt and ribbon skirt the pair wore to perform. The design was created in Hope’s Home Swinging with the Stars black and gold.

“I have been a seamstress since my early teens through my Pow Wow upbringing and so I knew right away that whatever we were going to do we are going to reflect hopeful intention and purpose but also Indigenize whatever it is that we’re touching,” Prince explained. “If I’m going to do this event I’m going to make sure that I am bringing my Indigeneity along with me, … whether that is through finding a dance instructor that can facilitate that and then making sure that we look Indigenous and that we are presenting that way as well. It was really important for me.”

There were several plot twists throughout the evening. Photographer Teigan Ulick tore her ACL playing soccer and partner Heather Mackie found a way to create a new dance with Desiree Hesson, who was working as bartender but has been a professional dancer for past Swinging with the Stars before the show.

The judges for the evening were Malcolm Jenkins, last year’s champion Keenan Holash and former competitors Shannon Parenteau and Mark Ripley.

Ripley and his business Mann Northway purchased Prince and McKenzie in the Calcutta and returned their half of the $85,5000 to Hope’s Home. The Calcutta itself was performed by auctioneer and former competitor Eric Schmalz, the Reeve of the RM of Prince Albert and an auctioneer.

The dancers also featured the first mother and daughter combination in Wilna Furstenberg and last year’s dance winner Tia Furstenberg.

During the performance by Ryan Wicks of Wick’s Detailing and partner Rachel Bremner the other professional dancers lent a hand to conclude the performance.

The top fundraising dancers were Wicks and Bremner with $13,550, just slightly ahead of Prince Albert Director of Planning Craig Guidinger and Bethany Leachman.

MacGillivray said they had to limit tickets because it was such a popular event.

“We had more people last year but I made it smaller this year because it was just too many people. Everybody just loves to see this because they are local people and it’s fun, but it is people that everybody knows and to see them that out of their comfort zone is crazy,” she said.

MacGillivray added that it showed what a great community Prince Albert is.

“Obviously thank you to the community. People say that they are always amazed, I am not amazed anymore. This community is just so great all of the time and it doesn’t matter if it’s Hope’s Home, or Victoria Hospital Foundation, YWCA, the SPCA, this city just rallies where ever it is needed and that’s why I love this city so much,” MacGillivray said.