This year's Dancing for Stroke was a huge success! The event managed to raise over $500,000 for Neuro Wellness programs in the East Valley of Phoenix, AZ.
Arizona Ballroom Champions once again partnered with Dignity Health Foundation of the East Valley to bring the best black-tie fundraiser of the season. If you did not get to attend this years event, here is a recap of the evening.
The event held at the beautiful Sheraton at Wild Horse Resort. Guests were greeted by Katie June and Clayton McKee as the walked the red carpet. The guests inside the ballroom were able to see the live broadcast of the interview on one of six big screen T.V.s. This amazing touch made the event feel like we were part of a Hollywood Premier!
This year we had 580 guests in attendance! The room was packed and it was great seeing so many guests coming together for a great cause.
This year we had an amazing surprise performance, Dinosaurs dancing to the Village People's Y.M.C.A. Dr. Rimma Finkel, Shawn Nerdahl, Kyle Farr and Selina Vega put on the costumes and created a unique routine that was inspired by Rex Albright. It was such a fun flash mob and Dignity's own Euly Smith set the stage by screaming and running in "terror" leading the dinosaurs to the main stage.
Mario Valadez, Director of Mission Services of Chandler Regional and Mercy Gilbert, offered the prayer for the evening. Rex Albright, Development Officer of Dignity Health Foundation - East Valley welcomed the guests to the 2nd Annual Dancing for Stroke event.
Stroke Survivors and their Caregivers wowed the audience with a swing and foxtrot routine choreographed by Shawn Nerdahl from Arizona Ballroom Champions. The Stroke Survivors took dance lessons every Tuesday at 1:15 pm and worked on their routine over the past year.
Darleen Santore (@TheCoachDar) is the USA Ambassador for Pay it Forward Day and was the perfect addition to this year's event. Darleen is a stroke survivor herself and her unique story is an inspiration to so many. We were truly lucky to have her be part of the event.
Ericka Richards is a, yoga/meditation instructor, healthy lifestyle coach and founder of Return Yourself to Wellness. Not only did she learn how to do the Cha Cha with her instructor Kyle Farr, but she also managed to raise over $10,000 and came in third place for her fundraising efforts. She was a delight to have in the studio and her hard work paid off.
Karen Stockton - CRMC is a Stroke Nurse with Chandler Regional Hospital and did an excellent Cha Cha at this year's Dancing for Stroke. She was partnered with Arizona Ballroom Champions very own Selina Vega, and together they pulled off an amazing routine. Not only did Karen dance an excellent Cha Cha, but she raised over $12,000 for the event, placing 2nd in the fundraising competition.
Kris Anest from Schwab and her teacher Decho Kraev danced the quickstep to Sing! Sing! Sing! Kris created a mini version of Dancing for Stroke with the ACT leaders and managers of Schwab. Kris attended the first Dancing for Stroke and was inspired to help. She and her team were able to raise over $30,000 for Dancing for Stroke and is planning on doing it again next year.
Dr. Michelle Rapheal, Neurologist at Gilbert Neurology, and her teacher Kyle Farr embodied the spirit of Marilyn Monroe and danced a Broadway Style routine to the song 20th Century Mambo from the TV show Smash. Michelle was a pleasure to have at the studio, and she made everyone smile every time she took a lesson.
Bridget Doherty, Annual Giving Manager of Dignity Health Foundation - East Valley and her teacher Shawn Nerdahl danced the Samba to the I Dream of Jeanie theme song. Bridget also represents The Power of the Purse, a Women's Philanthropic Society of the East Valley that focuses on the needs of women and families. Not only did she help raise a lot of money for the event, but she also got second place in the dance competition!
This year's Dancing for Stroke had an exceptional performance that was inspired by Mike Gamble and his wife, Elaine. The routine portrayed the struggle of surviving a stroke and the journey back to their new normal. Shawn Nerdahl and Diona Pelcts danced to a beautiful version of No Day but Today by Idina Menzel, and after their performance, Mike Gamble was able to get out of his wheelchair and walk around the dance floor with the assistance of a walker. There was not a dry eye in the audience. It has been Mike's mission to be able to walk again, and he works hard every day to make that happen. He is a true testament to the human spirit.
After watching Mike Gamble walk, many guests were inspired to donate to the Dancing for Stroke cause. First up we had Kris Anest representing Schwab. Kris and her team were able to raise $30,000 for the night's event. We also had Jeff Roberts the CEO of HealthSouth. Jeff and his organization pledged $25,000 to the event! Bridget Doherty was speaking on behalf of The Power of the Purse and pledged $25,000 to the cause. And then we had the major surprise of the night, Mike Halle. Mike Halle donated $100,000 to Dancing for Stroke! It was an unbelievable moment that will help out a lot of people.
Casey Jack, Regional Business Director for Air Methods and his teacher Selina Vega danced a very fun jitterbug to the Andrew Sisters-Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy. The routine was high energy, fast moves, and some fun tricks! It had everyone feeling like they needed to get up and dance!
Darcy Morlan, Neurovascular Stroke Specialist at Medtronic, and her teacher Kyle Farr danced a beautiful routine to Total Eclipse of the Heart. Darcy made the dancing look so easy and was doing back bends, flips, and tricks all to the amazement of the audience. She looked beautiful on the dance floor.
Diana Fischer, Director of Marketing HealthSouth of East Valley and Scottsdale, and her teacher Shawn Nerdahl danced a comedic Samba to I Love Lucy and Black Machine. The audience was not sure what was happening with all of the props and colorful costumes, but the comedic styling of Diana Fischer was just perfect. She embodied the spirit of Lucielle Ball and had the audience laughing and entertained. The routine earned her third place in the dance routine, and she got first place in the fundraising competition. She raised over $16,000 for stroke survivors and their caregivers.
Dr. Dave Reynolds, Neurologist, and his teacher Selina Vega wowed the audience with an amazing Cha Cha to LMFAO's Party Rock Anthem. His routine had everything, back flips, back handsprings, hip hop, and Cha Cha! The routine was perfect! His hard work paid off and was able to place first in the dance competition!
While the audience was voting, we got to watch the professionals and students of Arizona Ballroom Champions perform some incredible routines. First up was last years Dancing for Stroke winner, Euly Smith and her teacher Shawn Nerdahl danced a high-energy Cha Cha! Next, up we had professional John Holzworth and Amateur Champion Natalie Crandal dancing the mambo. Their routine had everyone dancing in their chairs! Next up were professionals Kyle Farr and Iliana Gonzalez. They danced an intense Paso Doble and wowed the audience with some beautiful lines and emotions. The Paso Doble was followed by a unique Jazz routine performed by professionals Shawn Nerdahl and Selina Vega. Next, up we had professional John Holzworth and his student Dr. Andi Wolff dancing a fun and flirty Swing! Finally, closing out the show we had National Rhythm Champion Decho Kraev and his student Natalie Crandall, Amateur American Rhythm Ladies A champion, dancing the Cha Cha! This dance proved why they are the current champions.
The time finally came at the end of the night, and we got to see just how much money was raised for this wonderful cause. We managed to raise over $500,000 for Stroke Survivors, Neuro Wellness, and other programs. We were so thankful to be part of this fantastic event and look forward to participating in it again next year. Make sure to save the date, October 7th, 2017 at the Arizona Grande Resort. Dancing for Stroke 2017 is one event you do not want to miss!