Dancing for a cause: Zumba raises almost $1K

Chase Bonhotel

A Zumbathon, organized by a Kent State graduate assistant, raised almost $1,000 Friday for Making Strides Against Breast Cancer.

The two-hour event at Holy Family Parish in Stow entailed continuous Zumba dancing, with 100 percent of the proceeds going to Strides.

“The event was awesome; I am ecstatic,” said Danielle Novotny, Zumba instructor and Kent State graduate assistant of sports and recreation. “It exceeded my expectations. We were hoping for $250 and raised more than $900. This is the second-biggest event I’ve ever participated in.”

Novotny has been teaching Zumba for two years. She teaches between 10 and 16 classes on campus every week.

According to the official website, Zumba was created in 2001. It’s an effective, easy-to-follow, calorie-burning dance party. More than 14 million people in 150 countries currently practice it.

“A Zumbathon is a giant Zumba party,” Novotny said. “It’s one of the coolest things you’ll ever see, and it’s modified to fit every age group.”

Novotny and a collection of Curves Weight Loss centers came together to organize the event. Curves is an official sponsor of the American Cancer Society.

“We spearheaded the event,” Cuyahoga Falls Curves co-owner Mike Meloy said. “We had been thinking about it for the past couple years, and this year we were able to collaborate and get organized.”

The event also raised money through prize baskets, which were donated by various Curves members. Halfway through, and at the end of the event, baskets were raffled off. The prizes included 2014 Cleveland Indians tickets, movie tickets and Mary Kay skin care sets.

“I got to dance, work out and won a raffle basket,” sophomore magazine journalism major Gabrielle Martinez said. “I had an amazing time, and the fact that the event was for a good cause made it even better.”

Meloy said he was overwhelmed with the community support the fundraiser received. Acme and Giant Eagle donated water for the event while other local vendors supplied raffle prizes.

“It was a lot of work getting organized,” said Dianna Meloy, Cuyahoga Falls Curves owner. “But it’s something that is near and dear to our hearts.”

Although the event was a workout, it held deeper meaning for some participants.

“I think the event was really good,” said Mary Ellen Yeager, Zumbathon participant and breast cancer survivor. “And the fact that they’re doing it and anything to promote early detection in breast cancer is wonderful.”

At the end of the event, participants cooled down and stretched. With the announcement of the proceeds came the sound of cheers pulsing throughout the gym. The excitement was insurmountable.

“I’ve been involved with it forever, and I don’t think I’ll ever stop,“ Novotny said. “It’s such a great program, and what I’ve seen it do for people, whether it’s raising money, helping with diabetes or helping people lose weight, is better than any [dance] number I’ll ever see. That’s the reason why I teach.”

Contact Chase Bonhotel at [email protected].