Volunteers of East LA Sponsor Zumbathon

You can help out families facing a tough battle with cancer by supporting Zumbathon, October 26

By C. J. Salgado, Contributing Writer
Published on LatinoLA: October 25, 2013

Volunteers of East LA Sponsor Zumbathon

With Halloween on its way, it's tough competition for calendar bragging rights, but October is Cancer Awareness Month, a time when many recognize how closely these dreadful diseases can touch us personally or someone we know. The author of this story knows all too well, having lost a young nephew, Eric, to leukemia.

Many want to help fight cancer but are not sure how. Luckily, on Saturday, October 26, 2013, folks can help out families facing a tough battle with cancer by supporting "Zumbathon," a fun dance event being held at the East Los Angeles Civic Center. Organized by the Volunteers of East Los Angeles (VELA), a nonprofit, this year's event marks the return for the 2nd time.

Alma Castaneda, who manages a local insurance office, has seen several good clients stricken with cancer over the years. So, she registered for Zumbathon to help raise money to support affected families by doing something she likes to do, dance Zumba. If last year is any indication, almost three hundred participants signed up, then many others are ready to help like Castaneda.

To promote the event VELA has proactively reached out to area Zumba studios, according to Kristina Davies-Ledesma of VELA. She encourages all to give it a try because it promises to be lots of fun and will benefit families battling cancer. Ledesma is passionate about the event because she lost her husband to cancer, too, and knows the struggles that come with cancer. Families benefiting from the fundraising can get assistance with food, utilities, bereavement expenses, etc.

In addition to the Zumbathon event, over 50 booths staffed by various community-based organizations will be present that day. Plus, other scheduled activities include a soccer clinic, rock climbing, and a tennis clinic. Registration is only done online at the VELA website at

Ruby Patino, a certified Zumba instructor who teaches at the Los Angeles Dance Center in East L.A., remembers her mother's best friend dying of cancer and her feelings of helplessness. A native of Mexico, Ruby has always loved to dance and is again donating her time to Zumbathon as one of about nine instructors scheduled to lead the event's 90-minute, non-stop, Zumba routine. She says it will be fun for all ages, as the routine is designed for beginners in mind with dances utilizing changing Latin rhythms pulled from themes in rock 'n' roll to hip hop to samba.

Why Zumba to raise funds for cancer? Well, in case you haven't noticed, Zumba has exploded in popularity since it purportedly came to the U.S. from Columbia to Miami, Florida in 2001. It's touted as not only an effective fitness program but also as just great, addicting fun because "every class feels like a party". Many must agree. In East L.A. alone there are some 100 Zumba classes available, according to

Sadly, many cancers are of unknown origin. We just don't know what causes them. However, it is thought that healthy living like getting plenty of exercise or losing excess weight can reduce our risk of cancer. If so, Zumba may be a powerful weapon in the fight against cancer. In the end, Zumbathon seems a fitting way to meaningfully mark the month of October in awareness of cancer by positively supporting the fight in a fun way while helping affected families.

Zumbathon at
East Los Angeles Civic Center, 4801 East 3rd Street, Los Angeles, CA, 90022

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