Strut their stuff to raise funds for cancer research, support
By Meagan McGone
SATELLITE BEACH - More than 70 unusually dressed women, as well as a few men, gathered at the David R. Schecter Community Center in Satellite Beach on Thursday, Oct. 11. Some sported fancy fuchsia wigs, while others donned tutus and outrageous socks, and many wore pink, bedazzled bras outside of their shirts.
But the group aimed to make more than a fashion statement.
Together, everyone danced their hearts out and raised $1,406 for one very special cause: to support those affected by breast cancer.
The charity event, called "Zumba for Breast Cancer!" was hosted and organized by Crystal Harrison, a local Zumba teacher, as well as other local Zumba-goers. This is the third event she has held to raise funds for the American Cancer Society.
"I do something special every year because my grandma, Nancy Badostain, died of cancer in 2004," Mrs. Harrison said. "She was 62 and was told she had six months to live, and she passed away exactly six months after. It was very sudden for our family."
The benefit, which featured raffle prizes, donations and lots of dancing, was held during the "Zumba with Crystal" Thursday evening class. Mrs. Harrison teaches the high-energy, dance-centered workout at various locations in Satellite Beach and Melbourne, and many of her clients devotedly attend her classes.
"I also have a lot of clients and friends who are breast cancer survivors, or know someone who was affected by cancer," Mrs. Harrison said. "So this is event is important to them."
Kerri Guzman is one of those women. Her mother lost her battle to cancer, which started with breast cancer and developed into brain cancer, in August, exactly two months prior to the date of the benefit.
In memory of her mother, Mrs. Guzman acted as the driving force behind the "Zumba for Breast Cancer!" benefit, collecting donations from local businesses to give as raffle baskets and painting dozens of stones, provided by Island Pond Creations, with words such as "hope" and "strength" in honor of loved ones.
To wrap up an emotional Zumba dance benefit, Mrs. Harrison invited breast cancer survivors onstage to perform a dance to Beyonce's "I'm a Survivor."
"We practiced it earlier in the week and everyone just started crying," Mrs. Harrison said.
But through the sweat and tears, the passion and generosity of all participants could not go unnoticed.
Amanda Carter, a 36-year-old who was diagnosed with breast cancer in August, came to the event to cheer on her fellow Zumba friends, even after recently undergoing a double mastectomy.
"This is the first time I left my house, besides going to the doctor's office, since my surgery," Mrs. Carter said. "I love Crystal and all of the people here. I just feel like they're part of my family. I needed this event."
She said the support she has received from her Zumba group is overwhelming, and it has helped her to stay positive and strong.
"I can still remember the day I found out like it was yesterday," she said. "It was devastating. But that following Thursday, I was here, at Zumba. I thought, 'I'm not going to let this cancer beat me. I was here Zumbaing with the girls, and I'm excited to get back into it."
For more information about Zumba with Crystal or the group's efforts to support worthy causes, visit www.zumbawithcrystal.com.