Zumbathon advocates awareness, educates

There are certain topics that most people get squeamish talking about and more often than not, would rather avoid completely. Cancer seems to be one of those topics. Although a very serious and heavy subject to talk about, it’s something that needs to be addressed. What better way to talk about something so critical than to lighten it up by dancing the day away.

On Saturday, the InMotion zumba instructors teamed up with Relay for Life foundation to put on Shakin’ it for a Cure, an event to raise money and bring awareness to cancer.

Attendees took part in two 45-minute zumba sessions and listened to speakers talk about their experiences with cancer. When the music started to play, it didn’t matter if people were expert zumba dancers or if it was their first time; there wasn’t a still body in sight.  One of the best ways to prevent diseases like cancer is staying active, and this event was just another way to educate people about prevention, and to have fun at the same time.

The interest to hold this type of event had been brewing for quite some time now. 

“As zumba instructors, we’d been wanting to do a zumbathon for a long time but we never had a cause to go about it,” said zumba instructor Tanisha Larson. “I was considering joining the Colleges Against Cancer Club and talked back and forth with Michael Harris for a little bit about it and told him our interest. The event was originally supposed to be for Colleges Against Cancer, but we decided to co-organize and partner up with Relay for Life.”

Having one of the zumba instructors have a strong connection with cancer was also a big push in putting on the event. A board titled “Who Are You Dancing For?” was posted at the event for participants to pay tribute to the people they were honoring who either lost their battle to cancer or conquered it. 

“Today I dedicated my butt shaking to my dad. When I was in high school, he was diagnosed with prostate cancer,” said zumba instructor Megan Cooper. “I got involved with Relay for Life in high school and then zumba kind of led me to more zumba events. Being able to still remember my dad with it all makes it a good way to stay a part of Relay, a part of zumba, and a part of my dad.”

Although the event didn’t have a huge turnout, about 15 people in attendance provided a comfortable and intimate setting to discuss such a sensitive subject. One of the guest speakers included senior Michael Harris, a survivor of a brain tumor, advocate and participant of Relay for Life. 

“In high school I did a mentoring program where we would mentor troubled youth. During one of the trainings there, I met this really cool girl named Jacqueline,” said Harris. “We got to meet each other after this three-day training and when she found out that I had a brain tumor, she told me about Relay for Life. One of the cool things about Relay for Life is that it’s interactive. Every team has a fight back message.”

Another aspect of the event was it being open to the public and free. Students brought along their friends to come and support the cause and get a workout in as well. 

“I didn’t know about the event until my friend told me about it. She’s here to support her friends that are the zumba instructors,” said UC Berkeley student Alice Kane. “I’ve had relatives that have passed away from cancer, and I have a relative that is currently struggling with cancer. I know that it’s for a really great cause, so I said that I would make the drive up here from Berkeley to participate.”

As the event came to an end, hugs were given all around and participants left the room a lot closer, now as friends, than when they first arrived. “I’ll see you Friday” was exchanged between everyone as they signed up for Relay for Life. Attendees left with a better  sense of understanding of cancer and learned ways they can participate, and help to spread the word about the disease.

Sonoma State will be hosting its own Relay for Life event on the Quad between Darwin and Stevenson on Friday from 2 p.m. until 2 a.m. on Saturday. Students are encouraged to bring along their friends and family for a night full of games, music, prizes and good company.