Sunday, June 12, 2011

Zumbathon for Joplin

On May 22, 2011 the entire world changed for my hometown of Joplin, Missouri. And although I have been away for 11 years, the news of this disaster devastated me and I will NEVER forget how I heard the news.

I was in Omaha, NE on the set of a TV shoot for one of my clients when I received a call from my college roommate and best friend. Erica had heard of the news that Joplin had been hit by a tornado and she was wondering if I had talked to my sister (who still lives in Joplin). Of course I hadn't heard from her and tried to call...but couldn't get a hold of her. Erica continued to keep me updated and each time we talked I became more aware that even more of the town I called home for 19 years had been wiped away.

We finally heard Ash, Seth and their 3 boys were okay so I had a small sense of relief, but there were still many friends and their families that I didn't know if they were okay. As the night went on I depended upon Facebook to hear updates. It was the BEST and practically our only form of communication with others since phone service was so spotty.

Mike and I couldn't stand not being there and decided to head to Joplin the next day to help wherever we could. Seeing the damage was indescribable. I just can't believe what I saw...seeing my childhood home with the roof gone, the trees torn up and the pool house demolished - it was devastating. And to think that this was nothing in comparison to other areas that were harder hit in town.
But then the time came after 6 days in Joplin that Mike and I had to come back to Sioux Falls and return to work...but I couldn't stop thinking about Joplin. How could I be back at work enjoying my normal life yet so maybe people I know and love in Joplin are suffering? I had to do something.

That's when I decided that I wanted to use one of my passions, Zumba, to help my hometown. I have been teaching Zumba for almost 7 years and what a better way to help raise money for such a great cause.

I started right away! I worked with the wellness center where I teach as well as Mike's fitness center to team up and put together a great event. All Zumba instructors were completely on board, I designed a logo and we were on our way!

My Zumba class helped spread the word and posters were put up all throughout Sioux Falls.

On event day we had a great turn out! So many businesses were willing to sponsor the event even providing water, bananas and cookies to keep the participants full of energy!

We also had so many wonderful door prizes donated to give to our participants.

There were 7 wonderfully talented Zumba instructors that participated in the 2 hour event. (And it's a good thing there were so many of us...we were exhausted by the end.)

We took turns out in the crowd to keep the energy up... well as spent time on stage leading the routines!

(Check out how sweaty we were...I lost 2 lbs just in sweat during those 2 hours.)

We had such a great turn out...check out how full the gym was!

And a few of the Sanford Wellness Zumba die-hards even stuck around for a group photo after the event!Two of the three television stations came out and covered the event event as well. That gave us even more coverage and more importantly donations as we accepted donations for one week after the event took place. All in all this wonderfully successful event raised a total of $3,242.44 for the Joplin Schools.

I couldn't be more proud to say I was a part of organizing this great event. This was just a small way for me to give back to such a wonderful town that has given so much to me!! I love you Joplin, Mo!