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Wednesday, April 24, 2024
Home News Swinging with the Stars hits new high-water fundraising mark

Swinging with the Stars hits new high-water fundraising mark

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Swinging with the Stars hits new high-water fundraising mark
Mark Ripley and pro dance partner Charitee Lehner perform during the Swinging with the Stars at the Prince Albert Exhibition Centre on Saturday. -- Submitted photo.

Mickey MacGillivray has always known Prince Albert residents were generous, but even she was a little surprised at just how far that generosity extended.

MacGillivray, the regional fundraising manager for Hope’s Home, said they were excited and overjoyed with the roughly $200,000 in donations racked up at their second annual Swinging with the Stars fundraiser at the Prince Albert Exhibition Centre on Saturday.

“It never ceases to amaze me how generous the people of PA are,” MacGillivray said during an interview on Tuesday.

“They always come out to support the non-profits raising money, whatever it is. The people of PA are always right there. It’s awesome. It’s amazing.”

Swing with the Stars raised roughly $100,000 for Hope’s Home in 2020. This year, they doubled that number thanks to generous contributions from a few judges and spectators.

Before the dancing even started, Malcolm Jenkins pledged to match the $47,000 in contributions made in the days leading up to the show. Then, Frank Dunn and Mitch Holash donated their portion of the $82,000 Calcutta Pot, after successfully picking the top dance pairing before the show.

MacGillivray said that thoughtfulness was nearly overwhelming.

“That’s when the tears came a little bit,” she said with a chuckle. “I’m not going to lie. Thankfully I had a mask on, so I didn’t look so silly.”

Local celebrities were paired with professional dancers for Prince Albert’s second annual Swing with the Stars fundraiser. Prince Albert teacher Keenan Holash and pro-partner Tia Furstenberg took home the judge’s choice award, while contractor and business owner Bryn Howland received the Crowd Favourite award with pro-partner Heather Mackie.

The eight dance teams raised more than $60,000 combined on the evening, with the final fundraising total yet to be verified.

“It’s certainly a once-in-a-lifetime chance for someone who doesn’t dance or anything like that, but the whole cause and foundation and everything that we did it for was just absolutely amazing to be a part of,” said Mark Ripley, a business owner and one of eight celebrity dancers.

Initially, Ripley had his reservations about taking part in the event, and even turned down the first request. He eventually agreed to take part after some convincing from MacGillivray, and has no regrets about the decision.

He was humbled to be a part of it, and even slightly surprised at the final total.

“I go the front row seat to watch it all happen with the bidding, so we kind of had an idea of where (the total) might be,” Ripley said. “But, when you actually hear that amount of money for one evening, and with so much else going on, it’s just absolutely fantastic. I couldn’t be prouder to be involved in such a successful event.”

Since moving to Prince Albert a few years ago, Ripley said he’s noticed just how important Hope’s Home is to the community. He said it’s important to support organizations who work with youth, and he’s glad the Prince Albert community offered their support Saturday night.

“It’s not just the dancers,” he said. “It’s everyone coming together, and to see the money that was raised there Saturday evening was just unbelievable.”

Funds raised at the second annual 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.

Although the 2022 Swinging with the Stars fundraiser was incredibly successful, MacGillivray said there are no plans to expand the number of people who can attend. Tickets sold out almost as soon as they went on sale due to high demand.

MacGillivray said Exhibition Centre is already the biggest venue in Prince Albert, but even if they could find a bigger one, she’s not sure they’d use it.

“We won’t go bigger for sure, because I do like the smaller (feel),” she said.

“I want it to be an event you want to get tickets to, and if you don’t, you’ll just have to watch it on social media or something.”