Zumbathon benefits breast cancer awareness
Songstress Trina Braxton was on hand at the Village Inn Event Center in Clemmons Friday evening to take part in the Second Annual Zumbathon Fundraiser for Breast Cancer Awareness.
Braxton, who stars with her sisters on the hit reality show “Braxton Family Values,” stood next to Zumba Instructor Renee Pickett and helped lead more than 200 women in a workout with purpose. The mother of two donated her time to the effort because she said breast cancer has “hit home with the Braxton family,” which includes her Grammy-winning sister Toni Braxton. The five Braxton sisters lost their grandmother to the disease 10 years ago, Braxton said, and an aunt is a survivor, as is one of her closest friends.
“Awareness is key,” said Braxton, who recently released her first solo single, “Party or Go Home.” “You can’t make a difference if you’re not aware.”
On “Braxton Family Values,” Trina’s sisters sometimes tease her for being what she calls “choreographically challenged,” but there was no sign of her two left feet at the Zumbathon, as she swung her knee-length braids and sweated it out to the pulsating beats.
“I had a wonderful time – it was like a full body workout,” she said after completing her portion of the three-hour long grind. “…I’m just glad to be here. I enjoyed myself immensely. Hopefully, they’ll invite me back next year.”
Lana Schlotfeldt, general manager at the Village Inn and one of the event’s coordinators, said she contacted Braxton as a possible headliner for the event, and was pleasantly surprised by the response she received.
“I’ve been watching ‘Braxton Family Values,’ and I’m a fan of hers,” she said. “When I contacted Trina Braxton, she didn’t hesitate.”
For the event, the Village Inn was decked out in hues of pink, from the balloons and streamers that dangled from the ceilings, to the spread of deserts and refreshments that were laid out for attendees. Women (and a few men) of every age and persuasion flocked to the Event Center, donning pink from head to toe. Some wore t-shirts inscribed with the name of a friend or loved one who has battled or is battling the disease, while others took a more flamboyant approach, sporting everything from pink streaks in their hair to vibrant feather boas. Schlotfeldt flitted about, passing out breast cancer awareness rings, bracelets and temporary tattoos. The grandmother of four said she founded the Zumbathon on a whim, along with Village Inn Owner Dana Bryson and Helen Naples, owner of Women’s Wellness and Fitness, last year.
“We love doing things for the community. We love to give back; we love Zumba, so we thought, ‘why not do a Zumbathon?’” she said of the annual event. “It was great. We had a great response. Everybody couldn’t wait to do it again.”
Schlotfeldt, Bryson and Naples sold more than 200 advance tickets to the event, which featured a live deejay, dance club-inspired lighting and an array of vendors. Money raised through the event benefitted the local Susan G. Komen for the Cure chapter.
Naples, who founded the Jonestown Road fitness center 20 years ago with women in mind, said she and the other organizers were not surprised by the enthusiastic turnout this year’s event garnered.
“The excitement has been building since last year, so we knew it was going to be a blowout,” said the Cleveland, Ohio native. “…So many people here are dancing either in honor or in memory or in celebration of someone who’s been touched by the disease.”
Winston-Salem resident Denise Harmon was dancing for, and with, her mother, Elaine Boyd, who was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1997. Boyd received her diagnosis after a routine mammogram; thankfully, the tumor was only the size of the head of a pin. Harmon said her mother’s experience drives home the importance of preventative care. She added that she couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate Boyd’s recovery.
“My mom has been dancing since she was three years-old,” said the Aveda Salons employee, who was recently licensed as a Zumba instructor. “She actually taught me to dance and she was the one who inspired me to dance.”
The Zumbathon marked the first major event to be held at the Event Center since it underwent a $1.5 million renovation, and Bryson, who took ownership of the facility just over a year ago, said she felt it was the perfect way to break the new Event Center in.
“It’s a great cause. I think everybody does (have a connection to it). If it’s not touched their life, it’s touched someone they know,” she declared. “…Some of the survivors may have struggled. Fighting cancer is not easy, but this brings a lightness so they can cut loose and have a good time and actually celebrate their journey.”
“Braxton Family Values” airs Thursdays at 9 p.m. on the WE TV network. For more information about Braxton, visit HYPERLINK “http://www.trinabraxton.com” http://www.trinabraxton.com. For more information about the Village Inn Event Center, visit HYPERLINK “http://www.thevillageinn.com” http://www.thevillageinn.com.