SwingShift & the Stars Dance-off for Charity is in its five-year anniversary, and what has become one of the largest fundraisers in our community, began with a simple idea from one woman. We're taking a look at how Judy Harrison is proving a mom, wife and CEO of her own business still has time to be a rockstar!
"It's something you've got to be a part of," said ReBooted singer & dancer Leslie Haskin. "You've got to go to a SwingShift event."
"We're putting the fun back in fundraising," said Melissa Coolman with SwingShift & the Stars.
When you try to explain a SwingShift & the Stars Dance-off for Charity event to someone who has never been... "Every single time when they finally come, they go, 'Ah! Now I get it,'" said Judy Harrison, founder of SwingShift & the Stars and owner of High Impact Productions.
SwingShift & the Stars began as a small idea five years ago when dancer and singer Judy Harrison decided to combine her two passions. "I thought, how do we make people excited about going and giving," said Harrison.
After growing up a dancer and teaching at Interlochen Arts Academy for 12 years, Judy wanted something more. "I wanted to be able to use my talent, but at the same time, I just kept thinking there was something new that had to come into the fundraising world," said Harrison.
"The total amount of money that was maybe raised the whole first year might be blown away by one show today because it has caught on so rabidly in town," said Sherry Taylor-Galbraith, friend of Harrison.
Marking its 5-year anniversary this year, SwingShift & the Stars has helped nearly 30 charities -- local and national. "What we raise at our event... 100% of it goes back to the charity," said Melissa Coolman.
And this year, it was a moment worth celebrating. SwingShift & the Stars hit $500,000 raised. "When we hit that $500,000 mark, it was just amazing," said Leslie Haskin. "It was history. It was being a part of history in this community."
"It was just amazing, said Harrison. "I hope we hit $1 million. That's just a dream... That we just keep going."
Behind that $500,000 smile is a humble mom and wife. "There's a lot more to Judy than even just the SwingShift & the Stars," said Haskin.
Celebrating nearly 30 years married to her husband Brad, raising two twin boys and her youngest daughter, Marlee, Judy is also the CEO of her own company (High Impact Productions), and she leads two bands: Judy Harrison & the SwingShift and her country/rock band ReBooted.
"I don't think there's a time in my life when I could count on laughing and having as much fun as on a road trip with Judy and the whole band -- and the whole atmosphere that is created," said Taylor-Galbraith. "Everyone's sweaty because we just played in 90% humidity downstate somewhere.. We're changing in deer blinds or porta johns! I can't even tell you, but they are the fondest memories of my life!"
"She's a stitch," said Haskin. "She cracks me up!"
"Most people who know me know I have a really loud laugh," said Harrison.
And that loud laugh and optimistic attitude is what keeps her going even when others try to tell her it's not possible.
"Judy has a way of handling obstacles so you don't go around them, you don't go under them, you don't go over them -- you crash through them," said Haskin.
"You have to know that what you're doing is right and good... And then, it's ok," said Harrison. "If you challenge me on it, you know what? I'm going to come right back at you because I know what I'm doing is good."
"Judy is not afraid to fail, and I think that's what makes her successful," said Taylor-Galbraith. "And she has... There's been some things she has launched and wanted to do that didn't go the greatest, but that has never stopped her from trying again."
"There was that turning point where I just took a breath and I said, 'no, I'll just do it better.' And we did," said Harrison. "And it's never just me. It's always WE. I'm surrounded by amazing people that I work with."
And from those she works with, Judy Harrison's success with SwingShift and life comes down to what matters most: "Her mantra is that family is always with her, and it's always important," said Haskin. "That's your number one. God and family... Comes first."
And with that -- Judy harrison is proving if you believe in what you're doing, others will follow.
"I do," said Harrison. "I really do believe in what we're doing. And you know, it's not what we're doing -- it's what this community is doing. It wouldn't matter that we were putting on a show and trying to raise money if we didn't have people wanting to be a part of it."
The next SwingShift & the Stars Dance-off for Charity will be Friday, November 16, 2012 at the Traverse City Opera House beginning at 6:30 p.m. Tickets can be purchased online or at the City Opera House box office: 231-941-8082.