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Nicole Inwentash, left, and pro dancer Daniel Studenny rehearse for the big event.

Kevin Van Paassen/The Globe and Mail

 The Donor: Nicole Inwentash

The Gift: Raising $99,000 and climbing

The Cause: Toronto's Baycrest Centre for Geriatric Care

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If it weren't for a friend, Nicole Inwentash might never have heard of Toronto's Baycrest Centre for Geriatric Care or learned to dance the cha-cha.

After a friend told Ms. Inwentash, 24, about a relative who worked at Baycrest, a leading centre for the study of aging and brain health, she decided to visit the facility and learn more about it. She took a tour and was asked whether she wanted to participate in the centre's major fundraising event, dubbed Dancing with Our Stars.

The event, on March 7, pairs community leaders with professional dancers who perform in front of an audience of around 800 people. It typically raises as much as $1.5-million.

"I really wanted to get involved so I could create kind of an awareness for the younger generation because a lot of them aren't very familiar with an aging brain," said Ms. Inwentash, who is between jobs and plans to study nutrition in September. "So by the time the younger generation gets older and they need these kinds of treatments, we have the latest, most up-to-date technologies out there."

Ms. Inwentash had never danced much before but she has been learning hip hop and the cha-cha with her professional partner. And she has already raised $99,000 in sponsorships, close to her goal of $100,000.

"I don't dance at all, so this is going to be a new thing," she said.

"You have to be courageous but I think it's a great cause.

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pwaldie@globeandmail.com

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