8 March 2024

Meet the 2024 Stars of Wollongong

| Dione David
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Participants in 2024 Stars of Wollongong Cancer Council fundraiser gather

The 2024 Stars of Wollongong are ready to strap on their dance shoes for a cancer-free future. Photo: Cancer Council.

For decades, Dimitri Skarvelis believed his days of dancing in front of the mirror to 90s pop icons were consigned to his boyhood history – until now.

He might be a touch rusty, but the local DJ and owner of Wollongong restaurant-bar The Icon is stoked to be named one of the 2024 annual Wave FM Stars of Wollongong.

The fundraising gala and dance competition will once again challenge local celebrities and community leaders to step out of their comfort zones, learn a dance routine from an experienced local dance instructor and perform it live in front of an audience of more than 700 people later this year – all while raising funds to help the Cancer Council realise its vision of a cancer-free future.

Like most Australians, Dimitri has a personal connection to the cause. While travelling in Amsterdam about 14 years ago, he received the news that his father had been diagnosed with brain cancer.

“I raced home and from the day I got home to the day he passed away about 11 months later, I was with him for the journey,” he says.

“I was there for every chemotherapy session. I saw what he went through, all the struggles – little things like finding parking at Wollongong Hospital.

“My family, we were fortunate to be financially stable, but I know a lot of people impacted by cancer aren’t, and treatments can get expensive.

“If this helps those people and their families, that would mean everything to me … I feel blessed to be a part of this.”

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Each of the 14 local stars is assigned a dance genre to learn and perform at the gala night.

“As a young child I did Greek school dancing. That’s the only genre I’m proficient in, but it’s very traditional, regimented, uniform, there’s no freedom of expression in it,” Dimitri says.

“Backstreet Boys and NSYNC, that’s my jam. I won’t lie, I’ve been watching a lot of Justin Timberlake music videos. I have three months – I think I can do this in that time … hopefully my partner is up for that.”

But the Wollongong born and bred restaurateur/DJ is more excited to put his fundraising skills to the test.

“I have built a lot of business and personal relationships over the past 42 years. I’m going to call in a few favours,” he says.

“I haven’t formulated my strategy yet but whether it’s big fundraisers or dance nights at The Icon, trivia nights with sports stars or something else entirely, I’m going to be calling on the support of my peers, community and anyone who knows me and how passionate I am about this.

“When that June date comes, so long as I know I’ve done all I can, I’ll be happy.”

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Since its inception in 2015, Stars of Wollongong has raised more than $1,000,000.

Community Fundraising Coordinator at Cancer Council’s southern office Sian Crinis says the power of the collective clout of our local community leaders in fundraising cannot be overstated.

“It’s amazing to see these individuals take on the dance journey and the impact and awareness they create amongst the Illawarra community of Cancer Council’s work,” she says.

“The aim is to have people from all areas of the community participate, demonstrating how we can all contribute and make a difference.”

Local figures strapping on their dancing shoes for the occasion are:

  • Jade Tonta (Wave FM)
  • Karlie Zec (Tiny Tins)
  • Tracy Preston (MMJ Real Estate)
  • Nick Bolton (The Ten Alphas)
  • Jessie Pill (BlueScope)
  • Olivia Blunden (WIN News)
  • Julia Najjar (JN Consulting)
  • Grad Petrovic (Total Security Services)
  • Simone Erdedi (It’s down to Simone)
  • Adriana Manfredi (Illawarra Itec)
  • Barbara Ihnat (London Rose Beauty)
  • Jonathan Pelham (360 HR Solutions)
  • Liv McElhone (Storm Athletica)
  • Dimitri Skarvelis (The Icon)

Participants are set to begin their training this month, working towards reaching their fundraising targets and competing for four awards up for grabs: Judges’ Choice, People’s Choice, Best Costume and Highest Fundraiser.

The competition culminates in a gala event on 1 June at Wollongong Entertainment Centre, where raffle prizes include everything from three nights away in Wollongong’s RV Camper Combis to gift cards, jewellery and much more.

For more information visit Stars of Wollongong.

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