APPLE SEEDS: Looking for stars in all the right places

Winners from 2008, 2009 and 2010

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APPLE SEEDS: Looking for stars in all the right places



Local history will be made tonight with the ninth Dancing with the Stars Quinte benefitting Volunteer and Information Centre of Hastings and Price Edward Counties – also affectionately known by many as just VIQ.

I had the good fortune earlier this week to sit with Todd Smith, our MPP, as a guest on Cogeco’s community show ‘From the Cheap Seats’ hosted by Bill Glisky from this newsroom. 

For our 20 minute segment we reminisced about past events, Todd having been the very first mirror ball trophy winner in Quinte, along with his partner Andrea Doucette in 2008, and I - runner-up in Season 3 (2010). 

Dancing with the Stars was one the first “reality” TV shows that I can remember, and one of the few that I still enjoy.  Debuting in 2005, I remember watching the last episodes in wonder as Kelly Monoco (General Hospital) and John O’Hurley (John Peterman from Seinfeld), battled it out for the mirror ball trophy. 

Ballroom dancing seemed to sense the revival across the continent, and within a few years, the professional instructors became as celebrated as the dancers.  They just crowned champions from Season 22.  

I hope that our local star-studded event has the same longevity as the international, televised version.   Most of the reasons are obvious – raising money for an organization that is quite frankly, the glue that holds the volunteer community together; raising awareness about who they are and what they do.   (just in case you still don’t know – visit viq.ca).  But it is more than that.

The first local show was held at the Fish and Game Club on Elmwood Drive.  Packed to the hilt with almost 300 people, the audience watched as the likes of Ingrid Moore, Sean Kelly, Scotty Lalonde and of course Todd and Andrea danced up a storm. 

In Year 2, they moved to the Yardmen, pop and water sold from coolers in the corner, with tables on the floor for the audience.  Okay, there were growing pains, but the show still rocked, with Mark Philbin and Sue Rollins earning the coveted trophy with a jaw-dropping jive. 

Year 3, the event ramped up.   Seats were sold in the stands, VIP seating on the floor, a bar was included in the plans, glitzy décor and the centre Jumbotron.  

The now traditional “halftime show” which is actually at the end of the competition while the votes are tallied, featured past-winners Mark and Sue and included a dance troupe performing Thriller.  I and my partner Michael Manthorpe, narrowly missed (or so I like to remember)  the championship mirror ball, losing to David Allen and Jeannette Arsenault. 

What isn’t as obvious, and came as a surprise to me, is what happened after the lights went out, the glitz was gone, and Monday came - but it is wasn’t just another day.  

I had spent so much time with my partner during the previous weeks, it felt like Michael and I had broken up.  What I have since realized is that friendships were forged through that shared and positive experience that will stay with me for life. 

I would never have had the opportunity to know Michael Manthorpe, now in my personal TOP 10 of favourite people, at all, .  I would have nodded to folks like Dave and Elaine Allen, Todd Bennett, Andrea Doucette - knowing who they were, but not knowing the depth of kindness, and selflessness of people I now consider friends.  

Define ‘star’ – a body that generates light and energy.  So to the critics that suggest the terms – celebrities and stars – are used loosely – I challenge you.  Every person that has given of their time and  talents (okay – some of that is dubious) to making this community a better place to live, work and play is a star – providing light and energy in sometimes very dark places.

And the stars are coming out tonight.  Congratulations to all of the past participants, and kudos to this year’s competitors.   

PAST WINNERS…

2008 – Todd Smith and Andrea Doucette
2009 – Mark Philbin and Sue Rollins
2010 – Dave Allen and Jeanette Arsenault
2011 – Charlie Fleming and Leslie Roseblade
2012 – Darek Wierzbicki and Gordana Vranic
2013 – Andy Caletti and Cassandra Bonn
2014 – Ryan Kelly and Karen Whitley
2015 – Steve Quickert and Carolyn Coffin

Don’t miss this event and remember that you are a witness to something very special.  

Read More: Opinion, Apple Seeds, Community, Quinte

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