BY KAREN SUROS
Lively, energetic music is playing as the eager crowd does their best to mimic the instructors, who spur them on. What looks like the ordinary Zumba lesson is actually an out-of-the-ordinary fundraiser.
Cooper City High School hosted the second annual Zumba for a Cause fundraising event on Saturday, October 27 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. The goal was to raise awareness of breast cancer and money for research through exercise. Ticket sales began at the door, costing students and children $5 and adults $15. Pink and white cookies were also sold as another way of raising money, and donations were accepted.
“It feels great to support a cause and do something I love at the same time,” junior Nora Mirabal said.
Behind the event were seniors Madison Mutzman and Alexandra Deso, who worked together with DECA to ensure a successful turnout. The inspiration behind the event comes from Mutzman’s late mother, Lisa Mutzman, who was able to detect her breast cancer with the help of Zumba.
“This event means a lot to me and my partner Alexandra Deso because my mom was diagnosed with cancer when I was 12 and she passed away when I was 15,” Mutzman said. “[Deso] was with me through every step of the way.”
The class was led by certified Zumba instructor Fran Mishler and colleagues. The cause was close to Mishler’s heart, as she personally knew Lisa Mutzman and her own mother was diagnosed with breast cancer, as well.
“It feels great to support a cause and do something I love at the same time.”
“I thought it was an amazing turnout,” Mishler said. “I think Lisa would be so proud that her daughters took on this leadership role to continue her legacy to empower women to know their body, to go to the doctor, to get their mammogram, to self-examine.”
Preparations began May of last year. In order to make the event a reality, Mutzman, Deso and DECA made sure to reserve their place at the school, get the event approved by administration and enlist certified Zumba instructors.
“[Deso and I] thought that this would be the best way to close out our project and finish it for this year by doing this in her memory,” Mutzman said. “By doing something she did every single day of her life while she was going through cancer, [which] really helped.”
While the event is raising money for the organization Making Strides Against Breast Cancer through the American Cancer Society, it also hopes to emphasize the role of exercise in increasing breast cancer awareness.
“Early detection is your best protection,” Mishler said.
Zumba is an exercise fitness program best suited for cardio, which includes high-intensity and fast-paced dancing. For Lisa Mutzman, it wasn’t just exercise– it was how she knew something was wrong. Now, Zumba For a Cause has become a way to ensure that other women are aware of what is happening with their bodies.
“I think Lisa is looking down and smiling.”
“In comparison to last year, it may not have been as big of a turnout with everything that was going on,” Mutzman said. “But through this and our other events we still had a great amount of support and it was still lots of fun.”
The hope is that Zumba For a Cause will become a tradition at Cooper City High School long after its founders have graduated.
“I do have a younger sister and she is a freshman so she still has three more years here,” Mutzman said. “So I’m hoping after seeing this, she’ll want to continue it and we hope it can be an annual thing once they leave.”
All in all, the Zumba For a Cause fundraiser was a success, effective in its intentions of raising money for breast cancer research, spreading awareness of the disease and being a positive, uplifting and exciting environment.
“I think Lisa is looking down and smiling and just very proud,” Mishler said.
Photo by Cassie Hartmann