‘That was amazing’: Inaugural Swinging with the Stars fundraiser raises over $100,000 for Hope’s Home

Chelsea of Power99 reacts with joy as her dance partner Randy Krammer lifts her at the end of their Swinging with the Stars performance on March 7, 2020. The inaugural event raised over $100,000 for Hope's Home. (Peter Lozinski/Daily Herald)

Mickey MacGillivray knew Prince Albert would support her latest fundraising idea, but even she wasn’t expecting what came next.

MacGillivray is the regional fundraising coordinator for Hope’s Home Prince Albert, 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.

MacGillivray had seen Hope’s Home Regina raise funds through an event called Swinging with the Stars — similar to Dancing with the Stars, but on a local level. Non-dancers are paired with dance instructors and put on a routine to compete for a panel of judges and for audience votes, cast in donations.

She decided to bring the event to Prince Albert.

After selling out in less than 28 hours when it was announced, the inaugural event, held at Plaza 88 Saturday, raised over $100,000 for Hope’s Home Prince Albert.

“It’s unbelievable,” MacGillivray said on Monday. “Never in a million dreams did I think we’d reach $100,00 that night. But I should have known better. This is Prince Albert. I’m just so happy and grateful.”

In addition to the ticket sales and donations, the event held a Calcutta auction, where people bid on contestants. When the winning pair is picked by the judges, the winning bidder takes home half the total pot.

That raised $14,000 itself. But when the winning bidder was announced as Adam Schmalz and Michael LIpchuk, they donated their $14,000 back to Hope’s Home.

“That was amazing,” MacGillivray said.

“The generosity of this town is incredible.”

Danielle Carter and Jason Zaleski perform a country-inspired routine to Pitbull’s song Fireball during Swinging with the Stars Prince Albert on March 7, 2020 (Peter Lozinski/Daily Herald)

There were other donations on the night, too. The Kinsmen Club donated $10,000, as did B&B Construction Group.

Other than Hope’s Home, Todd Kulczycki, who manages B&B, was the big winner. He and his dance instructor partner, Lauren Williams, took home the prize as people’s choice. The pair raised $43,294.10.

Kulczycki, who is a former Canadian Championship winner in the Canadian Cowboys Association rodeo, said learning to dance over the past four months was the hardest thing he’d ever done in his life.

“I had way underestimated the talent of these dancers,” he said.

Kulczycki said he was motivated to participate because of what Hope’s Home provides.

“They provide an environment for these children with critical medical conditions to live a fulfilling life,” he said.

“Prince Albert is a wonderful community and when they see a need or an organization that is adding value to the community, Prince Albert is known for standing behind it and supporting it. It was really rewarding to see the community get behind the dancers and the commitment they made. To see Hope’s Home benefit from that is great.”

R.M. of Prince Albert Reeve Eric Schmalz was another one of the non-dancers who took the stage. He praised Kulczycki’s efforts.

“Todd did a lot of heavy lifting bringing in some big dollars there. He did a lot of behind the scenes fundraising,” Schmalz said.

“It was amazing, the amount of money he raised.”

Schmalz, who had to switch dance partners just six weeks ago due to some unforeseen circumstances, won over the crowd with his dance partner, Brooke Wozniak, who co-owns Bold Dance Productions.

Reeve Eric Schmalz and dance partner Brooke Wozniak perform their winning routine at the inaugural Prince Albert Swinging with the Stars event to benefit Hope’s Home. (Peter Lozinski/Daily Herald)

The pair performed a moving lyrical piece, taking home judge’s choice and even earning a standing ovation from celebrity judge and Swinging with the Stars Regina champion Zack Evans, who congratulated Schmalz on behalf of bigger guys everywhere. Evans is a defensive lineman for the Saskatchewan Roughriders.

He may have had some sway over the panel, as Schmalz and Wozniak took home the prize for the judge’s choice.

“It was very nerve-wracking,” Schmalz said of the experience.

“She was an absolute professional and had a skill set that made me feel completely at ease once we started getting through our choreography and dance routine. Lyrical dance — people can get invested emotionally in those types of genres. It played well that night.”

Schmalz is no stranger to charity work, giving back through Schmalz auctions, the family business he’s involved with (that also played a role in the Calcutta auction Saturday night).

“If I’m recalling correctly, this would be the most money a charity has ever raised that I was involved with,” he said.

“That was so awe-inspiring that the community as a whole came together and raised that much money.”

He thanked everyone for supporting the cause, from people who donated to the dancers and all the volunteers who helped put it together.

Dr. Ayaz Ramji performs during Prince Albert’s inaugural Swinging with the Stars fundraiser for Hope’s Home on March 7, 2020. (Peter Lozinski/Daily Herald)

With Saturday night’s success, MacGillivray is already thinking about next year’s event.

“I got so many texts yesterday and saw so many posts on social media by people that said it was one of the best nights ever. I was really happy by the end of the night,” she said.

“I’ve had four people say ‘I want to dance next year.’ Everybody thinks they can’t dance, but with a little bit of guidance and help from a professional, you can dance. I’m already looking forward to next year.”