Though he wasn’t in attendance, a four-year-old by the name of Mighty Max helped ignite the biggest and longest Zumbathon the Carroll Wellness Center has ever seen.
Never before has the parking lot of the Hillsville facility been so full as it was March 7 as more than 200 people participated in the Mighty Max Zumbathon, an event to raise money for Max Brown and his family. Brown and his family’s lives were changed in January when he was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. In total, the Zumbathon and silent auction that accompanied it raised $3,000 for Brown and his family.
Past Zumbathons at CWC had lasted two hours, but this one went for three. For Whitney Jackson, one of six instructors that helped lead the event, it was a cause that hit close to home.
“I had a friend I lost to Leukemia in the in tenth grade, one of my best friends in my life. So it does hit close to home. I’ve had lots of family members with cancer,” Jackson said. “You want to help. Zumba is one of the things we love to do most, so why not help somebody at the same time?”
Gretchen Lawson is the founder of the Zumba program at the Carroll Wellness Center, or the “Zumba Mami,” as some affectionately call her. She said the Mighty Max Zumbathon far surpassed her expectations as the community came out in droves to support Brown’s family.
“We had 65 pre-registrations and my goal was 150 people, so we well exceeded the goal. It was the biggest Zumbathon we have ever hosted and it was also the biggest amount we have ever raised,” Lawson said. “I personally don’t know Max or Max’s family, but one of the trainers, Carrie Ayers, is good friends with the family and she thought it would be a great way to raise money for Max and do something fun at the gym as well. She was very right.”
Lawson credited many people for orchestrating the large event. Ayers and Michaela Smith handled the donations, while Lawson and Jackson were joined by fellow CWC instructor Kerry Crowley. Instructors Michele Davis, Scarlet Easter and Sarah Hall also came from Galax and Mount Airy, N.C.
She said silent auction items ranged in price from $10 to $100 and included everything from three rooms of cleaning from Servpro of Pilot Mountain, N.C. to gas cards, oil changes, homemade wind chimes and Thirty-One products. Servpro and Cook Rentals also donated a photo booth at a low rate for participants.
“It was a definite group event to pull this thing off and I am very appreciative to every person that had a hand in making this thing a huge success,” Lawson said. “I can’t say thank you enough.”
Each of the six instructors dressed as a superhero for the event. Before the Zumbathon, the six got together to record a message to send to Max. Lawson, who dressed as She-Hulk, sent Max strength. Dressed as Captain America, Hall told Max a whole team of superheroes is on his side and loves him. Batgirl (AKA Scarlett Easter) sent Max kisses and well wishes, Storm from XMen (Michele Davis) said she hoped Max stormed through all his problems. Supergirl (Kerry Crowley) wished to send Max super-strength, while Wonderwoman (Whitney Jackson) told Max the superheroes were praying for him to keep strong.
“It was private message so Max could see superheroes were sending him goodwill wishes and love,” Lawson said. “I want to give a thank to Lesley Catron because she did the makeup for me and she did fantastic.”
Crowley said the event was so successful nearly 2,500 door prize tickets were sold.
“We had people that didn’t even know what was going in to come and just buy door prizes once they found out what we were doing the Zumbathon for,” Crowley said. “In a situation like that, any little bit helps. The fact we could do something – that is a normal thing for us to teach a class, but for us to give a donation based on something that we loved, that was even better.”
Jackson said instructors saw many people come out for the Zumbathon they didn’t even know. That’s a good thing, she said, and a great way to get the Carroll Wellness Center’s name out in the public. It’s also a good way to jumpstart the popular Zumba program even more – although it’s not for everybody.
“It’s not for the faint of heart. It’s a lot to take in it and you either like it or you don’t,” Jackson said. “There’s no happy medium, but we seem to have a good following. I’m just glad everybody poured in their donations to help them out.”
Allen Worrell can be reached at (276) 779-4062 or on [email protected]