Dancing with the Doctors returns for second year

Fundraiser for Sanford Roger Maris Cancer Center puts docs in dance competition

Brittany Montecuollo and Dr. Doug Griffin raise their hands during dance practice for Dancing with the Doctors.

Sanford Health doctors are swapping lab coats for dancing shoes for the second annual fundraiser Dancing with the Doctors.

Fans of the popular TV dance competition “Dancing with the Stars” will be familiar with the format. Doctors will vie for audience votes with professionally choreographed dances, stunning outfits — and according to one competitor, a few secret moves.

“The hardest part has been trying not to burst into debilitating laughter watching my brother break out his moves,” said Dr. Chris Tiongson, a pediatrics specialist performing with his brother, Dr. Jeff Tiongson. “The other challenge is my brother tore his Achilles tendon this summer and is still using a knee scooter and will be dancing with the scooter.”

The competition takes place at 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 5, at the Fargo Theatre, 314 Broadway North, Fargo, North Dakota.

All proceeds from the event will be donated to the Sanford Health Foundation‘s Direct Patient Assistance program for the Roger Maris Cancer Center in Fargo. This program provides financial assistance to patients with lodging, meals, gas cards and more. Many patients come from all over the region to receive cancer care from Sanford Health, and this fund helps to support patients who are also facing the financial burden of travel.

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Dr. Anu Gaba, a hematology and oncology specialist, is competing in Dancing with the Doctors. Her dancing experience includes traditional dances of India, which she has performed at a cultural event at the Heritage Hjemkomst Interpretive Center in Moorhead, Minnesota.

Why they dance

Brittany Montecuollo, vice president of nursing and clinical services at Sanford Health Fargo, was a judge last year and is a competitor this year. She’s a fan of the TV show that inspired the event.

”Before I moved to Fargo, I watched ‘Dancing with the Stars’ with my mom every Monday,” she said. “She would say, ‘Our show is coming on! You better get over here.’ She decided, independently, that it was ‘our show’ but nonetheless, I started watching it.”

The good cause prompted Dr. Vijay Gaba, an anesthesiologist, to sign up to dance with his wife, hematology and oncology specialist Dr. Anu Gaba. While Vijay occasionally dances at parties, Anu has been dancing since she was 8 years old. She got involved in the first Dancing with the Doctors in 2018 and is returning for its second year.

“My patients know that I dance,” she said. “They have seen me dance at other events — not necessarily at Dancing with the Doctors. They love asking if I still dance and when my next performance is. Some make a special effort to be there which is really humbling for me.”

Dr. Jeff Tiongson in emergency medicine signed up at the urging of a colleague, even though he doesn’t have much dancing experience.

“But I did win first place in a dance contest in fourth grade with a girl from my school,” he said. “My prize was a 45 single of ‘Hotel California’ by the Eagles.”

As a bonus, the brothers will play their guitars and sing at the VIP after-party.

Meet the dancers

The 2019 cast of Dancing with the Doctors:

  • Dr. Doug Griffin and nursing VP Brittany Montecuollo
  • Dr. John Tinjum and wife Tally Tingum
  • Drs. Anu and Vijay Gaba (spouses)
  • Drs. Chris and Jeff Tiongson (brothers)
  • Dr. Steven Daniels
  • Pediatrics group: Drs. Stephanie Hanson, Robyn Maley, Rebecca Preussler, Amy Ochesendorf and Jagila Wesley
  • Resident physician group

Ticket info

Tickets are general admission and seating is first come, first served.

General admission is $35. VIP tickets are $125 and include:

  • Reserved premium seating
  • After-party invitation
  • Drink tickets
  • Meet and greet with the dancers
  • Special performance by the Tiongson brothers

VIP tickets are limited and only available to those 21 and older.

Register for this event.

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