When the pandemic forced the cancellation of the 2020 Dancing with Big Sky Stars competition, the largest annual fundraising event for Big Sky Senior Services was grounded. But thanks to some creative thinking, unbridled enthusiasm, and generous sponsors, this year's dance competition turned virtual- and turned into a big success.
In all, 10 teams and their sponsors submitted video entries to raise hope and money for Big Sky Senior Services to help the nonprofit organization continue its work to keep local seniors living independently, safe and free from abuse.
From Vinnie and his friends at St. Vincent Healthcare, to the fancy footwork of the Mission Ridge Shufflers, the competition was intense in both the beginner and advanced categories.
This year's People's Choice was awarded to the Wow Factor, sponsored by Billings Clinic, who dazzled the judges with their street dance under Skypoint.
"Of course we wanted to put our best foot forward," said CeCe Traywick of Wow Factor. "You want to go for the gold, not the silver or the bronze."
Along with her husband Joey, CeCe helped put the Wow Factor team together, but she gives all the credit for the winning entry to Maribel Parman, who choreographed the street dance.
"She honestly made something out of nothing," said Traywick. "She just looked at us, all different ages, some of us just meeting for the first time, and she just had a great mind, great skill and was gracious to us. We couldn't have done it without Maribel."
At $5 a vote, the Wow Factor's street dance raised over $3,400 in the People's Choice competition.
"I would say to everybody, just get involved," said Traywick. "Who don't you want to love, but seniors. We're all going to be seniors one day, and we're going to hope that people will dance for us to keep us in our homes."
Diversity Dance, sponsored by the Alzeheimer's Association, won for overall Best Dance Team, with its striking choreography to raise awareness of the devastating disease.
In the final tally, it was the diversity of the performances and the performers that impressed the judges most, as nearly all age groups, and talent levels were represented.
"It just turned out," said Wow Factor's Joey Traywick. "My wife said it was one of the top three memories of our marriage. So win, win. Raise money for the seniors, and I get to stay married."
This year's virtual dance competition raised $25,000 for Big Sky Senior Services. All the video entries for the Dancing with Big Sky Stars Community Edition, can be viewed at www.bigskyseniorservices.org. Click on team videos, sit back and enjoy.