'Stars' shine at SwingShift finale

Special to the Record-Eagle

Troy Broad and Pam McCormick dance in the Dec. 19 finale event of the SwingShift and the Stars Dance-Off for Charity.

TRAVERSE CITY — Troy Broad and instructor-partner Pam McCormick danced around their competition to win this year’s SwingShift and the Stars Dance-Off for Charity.

The 2014 event raised a still-to-be-verified record total of more than $287,000 for six area charities, surpassing last year’s total by about $3,000.

“Every year we’ve been breaking a record,” said Leslie Haskin, event performance manager for High Impact Productions, which puts on the annual event.

McCormick and Broad, president of Team Elmer’s, were named the overall dance and money winners after four competitions including the Dec. 19 finale. They raised an individual charity record of $125,835 for Leelanau Christian Neighbors — exactly $20,000 more than the previous record holder, 2013's Dan Brady, who danced for Habitat for Humanity — and tied another record.

“There are only two times that the dance winner has also been the money winner,” said Judy Harrison, creator of the "Dancing With the Stars"-like event, that has its own share of injuries, wardrobe malfunctions and friendly rivalries.

Overall second-place dance and money winners were chiropractor Heather Rassel and Cliff Shanoski, who raised nearly $52,000 for Mariposa Pathway, which empowers young women at risk.

BrickWays Foundation racked up the third highest total, with more than $42,000. The money will be used to help develop an ADA-compliant home at "Sandy's Fairway" for developmentally disabled adults, said executive director Susan Onan. But even more important is the exposure the dance event gave BrickWays, which has seen cuts from funding sources like Community Mental Health. 

“The money that we get from Swingshift, because it is such a big project, probably isn’t going to make or break it,” Onan said. “But because we’ve been so long a small organization, no one knew about us. And because of the way funding has changed, it is more important for people to know about us.

“We’ve gotten people to send checks because they saw us or heard about us at SwingShift. They’re looking on the Internet to see who we are. It’s very encouraging.”

Overall third-place dance winners were musician Jeff Haas and Meghan Daigh, who danced for Building Bridges with Music, which teaches diversity through school music projects.

“I think every charity is feeling it’s a big impact for them,” said Harrison, adding that the event also produces less tangible results, like friendships and collaborations between participants. “Building Bridges with Music raised $24,000. That’s two years of going into the school system for them.”

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