No second opinion was required; all the medical experts agreed that the annual Dancing with the Docs fundraising dinner has become one of the most entertaining galas in town.
Nine fearless physicians shimmied and shook the night away in the ballroom of the Hilton Lac-Leamy on Saturday night during a dance competition that helped to raise $455,000 for patient care and research at The Ottawa Hospital. Cheering them on was a sold-out crowd of 840 excited spectators, of whom about 70 percent work at The Ottawa Hospital.
Once the dancers were done taking their final bow, the votes were tallied and the prized medicine ball trophy was awarded amidst a shower of confetti, accompanied by party anthem music. It was presented to Drs. Arleigh McCurdy and Natasha Kekre, who wowed the judges with their group hip-hop dance, performed in partnership with the Arthur Murray Dance Studio in Ottawa. They also raised the most amount of dough — bringing in more than $70,000 each — in support of their work in CAR-T therapy for treating blood cancers, such as lymphoma and leukemia.
Later, the crowd piled onto the dance floor to try out some of their own moves.
Back to emcee the 5th annual gala were CTV News Ottawa anchors Graham Richardson and Patricia Boal, who also posed some post-performance questions to the dancers.
One lucky raffle ticket winner scored two tickets to anywhere WestJet flies, as well as a one-week stay in a luxury ocean-view villa at Grand Island Resort & Spa in Exuma, Bahamas, donated by The Foundation WCPD.
Shawn Simpson, host of TSN 1200 The Drive, was back judging the dance competition with Jennifer Van Noort from The Ottawa Hospital Foundation and a candid Carlos Lourenco from the Arthur Murray Dance Studio in Oakville. New to the panel this year was Dr. Roanne Segal, 2017 Dancing with the Docs champ.
The presenting sponsor was MD Financial Management, represented by executive vice president Mike Gassewitz. Also in attendance was The Ottawa Hospital Foundation's president and CEO Tim Kluke. “I have so much respect for the physicians," he told OBJ.social. "They are incredibly busy people during the day but they've taken numerous dance lessons during the evening, and some have taken more, to prepare for tonight."
The room heard how the Arthur Murray Dance Studio in Ottawa has been like a second home to the dedicated docs in recent weeks
During the competition, infectious disease specialist and Dancing with the Docs alumna Anne McCarthy cartwheeled across stage like a school girl as she performed a hustle and jive number. Otolaryngologist Laurie McLean impressed everyone with her energy and enthusiasm. “I was a highland dancer when I was a kid,” McLean revealed while still catching her breath from her jive and swing medley.
Dr. Tim Ramsay, a senior scientist with the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute and director of the Ottawa Methods Centre, danced an Argentine tango with medical student Maria Gladkikh. "That felt really good," Ramsay said immediately after his performance. The room heard how he had booked meeting rooms at work for some extra rehearsing, and had considered dropping out of the competition during a moment of weakness a couple of weeks ago.
For Dr. Glenn Posner, the dance competition was about exiting his comfort zone. “I just want to lead an interesting life,” said Posner, who was fundraising for The University of Ottawa Skills and Simulation Centre. He performed a fun medley of the swing dance, Lindy hop and the cha-cha.
Dr. Joyce Schachterwas raising money for The Urogynecology and Reconstructive Pelvic Surgery Clinic. She was described as a “firecracker” by her dance partner of a sexy tango reggae fusion, while Dr. Sue Dojeiji fed off the positive energy in the room during her cha-cha, reggae medley.
“My whole family is here, and my friends and colleagues," said Dojeiji, who was fundraising for The Rehabilitation Centre Volunteer Association Patient Fund. “I’m just so blessed.”
When the physiatrist was asked by Richardson what she found to be the hardest part of her performance, she quipped: “Getting the fishnet stockings on about five minutes ago.”
Orthopedic surgeon George Grammatopoulos had only just arrived to town from the U.K. when he was recruited for the dance competition. “Actually, it was in my contract,” he joked following his passionate cha-cha, bolero, tango medley. He was fundraising for the Orthopedic Research Chair. He warned the audience that he may experience "withdrawal symptoms" in the coming weeks, so don't be surprised if you see the good doc bopping down hospital corridors.
The Ottawa Hospital is one of Canada’s largest learning and research hospitals, with more than 1,200 beds, over 12,000 staff members and an annual budget of approximately $1.2 billion.