Organisers of the Illawarra’s biggest fundraising event for the Cancer Council NSW can safely say this year was the biggest.
In its third year the annual “Dancing With the Stars” style event was moved to a bigger venue, incorporated more competitors and overall raised nearly more than the first two years combined.
Fourteen professionals from around the region swapped suits for sequins and learned a hot shoe shuffle over 12 weeks while each rounded up donations for local cancer support services and programs.
The group raised in excess of $122,000 online while ticket sales from the gala dinner raked in more than $20,000.
Final figures won’t be known until later in the week with raffles and silent auction tallies still to be counted, but it could exceed the $150,00 raised in the first two years of operation.
Corrimal pharmacist Ljiljana (Lili) Cosic was this year’s top fundraiser with $28,617.80 collected.
Senior stylist at The Hair Lounge, Isobel Foye, was voted this year’s Judges Choice winner by 2016 Judges Choice winner Mark Smith plus television personalities Joe Hildebrand and Jessica Rowe.
Graham Lancaster of Lancaster Law and Mediation was awarded best costume for his Superman-meets-the-Devil outfit (his dance partner Maddison Todman was dressed as Wonder Woman).
While Deborah De Santis of IRT won the People's Choice award.
Organisers also gave an honourable mention to Wollongong Police’s multicultural liason officer Rima Elhage who raised more than $20,000.
“She raised $21,736.44 and gave a special call out on the night to some close colleagues who are dealing with their own cancer journeys and couldn't be there in person,” a spokeswoman said.
Ms Elhage previously told the Illawarra Mercury she had even attended fundraising events of other competitors because they were all “working for the same goal”.
Illawarra Mercury political reporter Andrew Pearson was another of the competitors who brought many cheers from the crowd for morphing into an Eminem character for his hip-hop number.
Other competitors included Nathan Brown, Deborah De Santis, Adele Fiene, Jim O’Shea, Maje Saba, Grant Barlow, Natasha Pearson, Holly Sassall and Jared Constable.
Money raised from the event goes to supporting local programs and services
This includes free transport to cancer treatment; access to financial, legal and emotional support; affordable accommodation when patients are required to travel for treatment; plus prevention programs, research projects and supporting the cancer information centre at Wollongong Hospital.