The couples, comprised of an advanced dancer and a beginner, competed before judges and a large audience at Colusa Casino and Resort.
Contestants were chosen for their connection to Rideout, said Executive Director, Jeff Swanson.
“It’s not just a party and a nice event,” Swanson said. “It actually means something to them because then when they go and talk to their friends and neighbors and businesses, they can speak to why it’s important for their community and it’s important for them.”
The other element that the contestants were chosen by was by the area in which they reside.
“We’re not a Yuba-Sutter hospital,” said Swanson. “We’re Yuba, Sutter, Colusa, Nevada, all the way up to Butte County now.”
Swanson said patients come from all over to be treated at the Cancer Center, a multi-county hospital.
“We want to have multiple communities to be able to rally behind their champion or behind their dancer,” he said.
Volunteering for the event was Colusa County resident Susie Stassi, who danced two years prior, claimed to have a great time despite being out of her comfort zone. Stassi wanted to raise money for the Cancer Center because her father had received treatment there.
“Unfortunately my husband got diagnosed with cancer last year, so I just felt like it was my time to give back for all that has been done for us in the Cancer Center,” she said. “It’s fun to be on (the volunteer) side of it too.”
Arbuckle resident Donna Green raised money for the NICU and the Family Birthing Unit. Dancing to fulfill a promise to the late Raymond Charter, Green gave a lighthearted performance to “Ghostbusters” by Ray Parker Jr. and then showed versatility with a romantic “Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman?” by Brian Adams.
Bitsy West, of Colusa, performed as the experienced dancer. West has been working at Jackie’s Dance Expressions in Yuba City where all the novices were trained.
“We have a really good cast this year,” said West. “We all get along really well.”
Dancing for 18 years, West said her favorite part is when a student gets an aha moment when a dance move finally clicks into place. For a few years, West coached for the event, but this year, she also danced with her partner, Christian Sachs, a former resident of Colusa.
West and Sachs danced to “One Call Away,” by Charlie Puth, a nod toward Sachs’ profession as Chief of Police for Marysville. At the summit of the performance, first responders joined the dancing duo onstage for an emotional conclusion.
Sachs said that he raised money for the Cancer Center because of afflicted family members and friends. He also raised money for the Cardiac Unit that he credits for saving his mother’s life.
Over the course of the past eight years, the event has raised $765,000. Swanson estimates that this year’s event will add $130,000 to that total, just shy of breaking a previous record.
However, Swanson pointed out that unlike the year that garnered $135,000, which was a two-night event, this amount was raised for a program that was only for one night.
“Last year we switched back to a one-night event,” Swanson added. “It’s just a lot more energy. It’s a longer program but I think everyone enjoys it a little more.” ■