Ask Jim O’Shea if he can dance and he’ll give you a straight answer: No.
Mr O’Shea, the Housing Trust’s general manager of corporate services, might have “no dancing background whatsoever” but that won’t stop him from stepping out of his comfort zone and onto the dance floor – all in the name of charity.
The businessman is among of a group of 14 professionals – which includes Illawarra Mercury journalist Andrew Pearson – who will attempt to put their best foot forward as part of the 2017 Stars of Wollongong Dance for Cancer fundraiser.
The Cancer Council event will see the ‘stars’ learn a dance routine over 12 weeks, then perform it in front of an audience and judges.
“My wife’s an extremely good dancer, she’s an entertainer, and I’ve been putting off dancing with her because I’ve been a little bit, I suppose, scared of … making a fool of myself,” Mr O’Shea told the Mercury.
“I’m hoping that over the course of the next 12 weeks I’ll learn a little bit and get out on the dance floor with her as well; no excuses now.
Mr O’Shea said the event was an opportunity to raise money for the Cancer Council, while also raising the profile of the Housing Trust.
“Like everyone else, my life’s been influenced by cancer in a number of ways, both personally and with friends and family,” he said.
Caitlyn Zalewski, community relations coordinator for the Cancer Council’s southern region, said the fundraiser had gone from strength to strength. The first Dance for Cancer, held in 2015, raised about $60,000 and last year’s function generated $90,000.
The 2017 figure is expected to be about $100,000 – but organisers say the event is about more than just dollars.
“It’s really about the community engagement and working with all the people who have donated their time,” Ms Zalewski said.
“This is just a great opportunity for us to get out there and do something really, really fun and just engage with the community to create awareness, too, about what the Cancer Council does.
“We have a number of prevention programs we run throughout the Illawarra, as well as local support services like free transport to cancer treatment.”
The Cancer Council recently put almost half a million dollars into University of Wollongong research, which focuses on identifying radiation and ensuring doses are safer and more effective.
“That’s going to change the lives of people throughout the world,” she said.
The 2017 Stars of Wollongong Dance for Cancer gala event is on June 3 at the WIN Entertainment Centre. Tickets are $140 each and available via Ticketmaster.
Find out more at: everydayhero.com.au/event/starsofwollongong2017
To support the Mercury’s Andrew Pearson, visit: starsofwollongong2017.everydayhero.com/au/andrew-pearson