5th Annual Zumbathon Fires up a Party for a Cause

ORANGEVALE, CA (MPG)   |  Story and photos by Trina L. Drotar
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The Firefighters Burn Institute provides many services for fire victims of all ages, including firefighters and children. Firefighters Kids Camp and Little Heroes Camp provide nurturing environments where young burn survivors can be active, do crafts, and have fun.

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There are many ways to support the Firefighters Burn Institute including its annual “Fill the Boot for Burns” boot drive fundraisers and the 5th Alarm Chili Cook Off at California Automobile Museum on Saturday, October 20 from 6 p.m. – 10 p.m. For additional information, visit https://www.ffburn.org or www.firesetter.ffburn.org.

ORANGEVALE, CA (MPG) - Orangevale Community Center was electric Sunday morning, August 26 as more than 200 men, women, and children filled the gymnasium for a two hour Zumba marathon to raise funds for the Firefighters Burn Institute’s Youth Firesetter Program. With fourteen fully energized instructors from the region on stage to guide, instruct, and inspire, the crowd sweated and burned calories from the 10 a.m. start until noon. “Zumba Love,” “Peace Love Zumba,” “Make It Happen,” “Free Zumba,” and “Zumba Boss” were some of the slogans on shirts. Red was the color of the day and fun was the attitude.

Lorie Valdez-Hobart, the event’s instructor coordinator and Zumba guru, reminded the group of the four rules of Zumba. “Let go,” she said. “Let everything go that’s bothering you. Two, keep it safe.” She reminded dancers to take breaks and keep hydrated. Water bottles lined the walls while the gym shimmied and rocked to the sounds of Reggae and Latin rhythms and a touch of hip hop. Every so often, the instructors would slow things down so dancers could towel off beads of sweat and bring heart rates down just a bit.

“There are no wrong moves in Zumba,” Valdez-Hobart shouted to the audience who returned the shout. “Have fun!” And the party began in earnest with that last rule. Instructors rotated and brought his or her personal style to the party. Dancers heeded the rules. Valdez-Hobart has been hosting the Zumbathon since 2013 when she was first contacted.

“I love doing this event!” said Valdez-Hobart, saying how “empowering it is to be able to bring over 200 people together through Zumba to raise money for such an amazing organization!”

The Firefighters Burn Institute provides many services for fire victims of all ages, including firefighters and children. Firefighters Kids Camp and Little Heroes Camp provide nurturing environments where young burn survivors can be active, do crafts, and have fun. Firefighter Robert Knaggs praised the camps and the opportunity for children to be outdoors safely. “They don’t cool off as well after being burned,” he said.

The Youth Firesetters Program offers a range of services to youth and their families. “We help the children build self-esteem,” said programs manager Kara Garrett, who works with youth as young as five in weekly classes to help them learn how to turn themselves around.

The program includes a nightly dinner, the opportunity to receive mental health and social services for the child and family, and requires the students to find a volunteer opportunity in the community and sign a note “promising to make the world a better place,” added Garrett.

Several firefighters, including some new to the field, were on hand to talk with, sell raffle tickets, take photos with, and support the event which has grown during its five years and is expected to return next August.

There are many ways to support the Firefighters Burn Institute including its annual “Fill the Boot for Burns” boot drive fundraisers and the 5th Alarm Chili Cook Off at California Automobile Museum on Saturday, October 20 from 6 p.m. – 10 p.m. For additional information, visit https://www.ffburn.org or www.firesetter.ffburn.org.