Zumba for charity

At least a dozen Zumba fitness instructors from across the Rogue Valley are gearing up to “Shake It For Charity,” an exhilarating Zumba workout doubling as a fundraiser for the Crohns & Colitis Foundation of America. The event will take place on Friday, May 3 from 7 to 9 p.m. in the McNeal Pavilion on campus.

Zumba is a latin-inspired fitness program that incorporates unique dance steps and classic exercise moves for an entertaining and effective workout routine for men and women of all ages. Melody Condon, current Zumba instructor at Southern Oregon University and organizer of the event, discovered her love for the workout as a freshman at SOU.

“I was kind of sedentary as a child, but I instantly fell in love with Zumba because of how fun it is,” said Condon, 21.

It wasn’t until her sophomore year, however, that her life truly changed forever. At just 19 years old, Condon began to experience the discomfort and pain associated with Crohn’s Disease, a chronic inflammatory bowel disease that affects as many as 700,000 Americans, and due to limited research, has no known cure. Colitis has similar symptoms to Crohn’s, but it refers to the inflammation of the colon.

Condon says that to treat her condition, she is forced to take immunity suppressant medication, which has the potential to cause often uncomfortable and dangerous side effects.

“The meds that exist attempt to alleviate symptoms, but are often ineffective and always really toxic,” she said.

“It’s a huge gamble; I felt really guilty and still do, taking these meds.”

Condon says that Crohn’s has caused considerable adjustments in her diet, preventing her from eating foods such as popcorn, seeds, and raw vegetables.

Condon was able to manage her symptoms for a year and a half after diagnosis until her condition flared painfully during the holiday break last December, sending her to the hospital on Christmas Eve.  That experience spurred Condon to pursue her idea of incorporating her love of Zumba with fundraising for Crohn’s and Colitis.

“Zumba has this power to make people completely forget their worries and major despair,” she said.

“I wanted to continue to utilize it’s magic and do something for Crohn’s and Colitis. I want to raise awareness and celebrate the passion and the vitality that Zumba represents for me.”

Condon says that between eight and 12 different Zumba instructors, herself  included, will take turns presenting their unique styles, music choices, and dance moves on stage.

“I want the message to be about taking positive action and feeling optimistic and not alone,” she said.

According to Condon, there are rarely big Zumba events in Ashland, and she is hoping for a big turnout. All ages, with children preferably 10 years and older, are encouraged to come prepared for an exhilarating workout and a lot of fun in the process.

“It’s this vibrant community and it’s loud, energetic, and accepting,” she said.

“Don’t be afraid, you’re allowed to mess up; you’re allowed to look like a fool and sometimes that’s half the fun.”

Tickets are $10 in advance or $15 at the door, and can be purchased online at www.wepay.com/events/ccfa-zumba. Donations will be graciously accepted at www.wepay.com/donations/ccfa-zumba.  Net proceeds will be donated to the Northwest Chapter of the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America to fund research, support groups, and medical advancements.

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