The OK Tire Snow Ball generated thousands of dollars for eight local charities on the evening of Nov. 21, and the biggest beneficiary was Pathways Addiction Resource Centre.
Seven South Okanagan couples spent weeks practicing a routine for the event, each competing on behalf of a different charity. Being represented by the winning couple, Pathways was awarded $1,500, and every other team won at least $500 for their charity.
The couple to win Pathways the top prize was David and Michou Szabo, who stayed truest to the format ballroom dancing while dancing to At Last by Etta James.
“It was truly a traditional, romantic ballroom dance,” said Darryl Myers, agency director at Pathways. “The dancing was great and the emotion they put into the dance was just lovely. You could really get the feeling and emotion from when they were dancing and it was like a love story. It was beautiful.”
Myers said Pathways meets over 700 new clients each year, and in order to adequately provide their services, fundraising is essential. With the holiday season approaching, Pathways is getting ready to launch two more initiatives.
“We’re running a group for people who are affected by a family member’s substance abuse, so how they’re going to be able to cope with that coming up through the holiday,” she said. “Another group is for clients who are working on their recovery and how to get through the holidays because it’s a very difficult time for many people.”
“Pathways is a great charity and they do a lot of great work in town with people who have different addiction problems,” said David.
David and Michou have been married for decades, but aside from one attempt at dance lessons, and lessons as a young girl for Michou, they had almost no dance experience.
“We started taking dance lessons once about 15 years ago, once, and I broke a bone in my foot,” David said. “We had three classes and then I didn’t dance anymore after that until we started this training.”
“The toughest part was deciding we were going to take it seriously; dealing with aches and pains and practicing five days a week,” Michou said. “In order to do that we had to commit to showing up every day.”
Each member of the audience casted a ballot to select the winning couple. There were a number of factors for voters to consider – their favourite contestants, favourite charity being represented and the most impressive routine. David believes his and Michou’s creative selection benefitted from the average age of the audience.
“They maybe had a little bit more of a connection with that song,” he said. “And our routine was pretty good, my wife had a great looking dress on and it looked good when we sort of threw it around the dance floor.”
“It was such an amazing opportunity for us to participate,” Michou said. “I’m a Dancing with the Stars fan, I watch that regularly, so secretly I’ve always thought it would a good thing to participate in, so for me the Snow Ball was the closest thing to that, and to then win it, we’re over the moon.”
They praised their choreographer, Wendy Goudie, for helping them to formulate the winning routine.
“Wendy gets things done,” Michou said. “She pushed us further than we thought we could go. Not only did she choreograph, but she made sure that we didn’t just go in and start dancing, we did some coordination exercises, we then did some strengthening exercises and then we worked on our routine. Her ability to build week by week what we needed and when we needed it was paramount to our success.”
If the Snow Ball happens again in 2016, and if David and Michou are invited back, David said they’ll definitely return to defend the title, and they’re already thinking of another routine to try out.
“We’re busy people, but we committed to take the time to practice,” Michou said. “We spent more time together in the past seven weeks than we have in a long time.”