Baylor Fitness Zumbathon raises money to aid Japan

By Molly Dunn

With the popularity of Zumba exercise classes, Baylor Fitness hoped to attract many faculty, students and others from the Waco community to participate in Zumba exercise and raise money for Japan at the same time.

All the money raised Friday at the Baylor Sciences Building fields went directly to the Red Cross to help victims struck by the earthquake and tsunami in March.

“We really want to pull in the community, too, not just Baylor,” Little Rock, Ark., senior Alexanne Pitts, a Bearobics instructor, said.

“I think Zumba is a really cool opportunity to do that because Zumba the organization, as it is, does a lot to pull Zumba instructors from across everywhere to come together and support Susan G. Komen or just any kind of Zumbathon; [that’s] what we call them, parties to raise money for something.”

Pitts collaborated with Van Davis, assistant director for fitness and nutrition education, to create an event to benefit a cause close to both of their hearts.

“Whenever this happened, of course everyone had a heart for it. Everyone wanted to do something, but my boss being Thai, we both just put our Asian heads together and said we have got to do something,” Pitts said.

Planning the event, however, was not an easy task, Pitts said.

“It was kind of hard because with a natural disaster, it doesn’t necessarily conveniently happen,” Pitts said.

“It was a really cool opportunity for something to happen and us have to step up and sacrifice maybe a weekend plan or just certain things to prepare for it.”

As 6 p.m. approached, students and others from the Waco area joined the group to participate in Zumba and raise money at the same time.

Other than added donations, Baylor participants paid $3 and non-Baylor participants paid $5 and raised a total of $408.

Davis said that not only did everyone get a workout, but they also helped a great cause.

“I thought it was a really clever idea to raise money for Japan because you know people are like, ‘Donate money to the Red Cross,’ but Zumba for Japan is just clever and original,” Birmingham, Ala., freshman Rebecca Hans said.

One of the Bearobics instructors, Thomas Leathers, a freshman from Nashville, Tenn., said, “Zumba for Japan is an awesome way to get the school involved and the community involved. Why not help and have fun at the same time?”

Six Bearobics instructors led the event, giving participants a variety of Zumba routines.

“Baylor is gifted with awesome instructors and to see all of them come together to unite for a cause is amazing,” Leathers said.

Pitts said she admires the fitness department and Davis for her character and dedication to the department.

“I love the Bearobics department at the [McLane Student Life Center] and Van Davis really is just a role model,” Pitts said.

“I think it’s really neat how her career is in the fitness field, but she more than just caters to the physical aspect. She genuinely cares for people. I really think the Bearobics department we have is just pretty solid and it’s a pretty cool hidden secret at Baylor.”