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Zumba event raises funds for kids fitness program
Participants in the Zumbathon benefit are all smiles Saturday during short breaks between the music. Janette Byrom, right, and Vickie Idoux-Walz chat while they catch their breath at the Frances Meadows Aquatic and Community Center. The benefit raised money for the Gainesville Parks and Recreation Children At Play Fund - photo by Scott Rogers | The Times

Whether or not you knew how to dance or what age you were, a good time was had at the first-ever Zumbathon on Saturday at Frances Meadows Aquatic and Community Center in Gainesville.

Zumba is a dance fitness program that incorporates Latin American dance moves with aerobic exercises.

Not only were those who took part exercising and helping themselves to a healthier lifestyle, but the $5 fee to participate in the event went to benefit the Gainesville Parks and Recreation’s Children At Play Fund.

Zandrea Stephens, senior secretary and Zumba instructor at Frances Meadows, said the goal was to reach $500. By the time the event was finished, that had been reached.

“Childhood obesity has become a big concern for the nation, just not here in Gainesville,” Stephens said. “So what a way to promote the Children At Play Fund, which gives some of these kids a chance who don’t have the money to have a scholarship. That helps pay for any sport they want with Gainesville Parks and Recreation.”

On the $500 raised, Stephens said “it will put kids in camp for the whole summer.”

The fund is an initiative by Gainesville Parks and Recreation to “ensure that every child under the age of 18 has the opportunity to participate in beneficial recreational programs that promote physical activity and proper nutrition, develop character and teach lifelong skills.”

Chris Minor, recreation program manager, couldn’t believe the turnout, which exceeded his expectations.

“Our goal was just to get people out here and raise money for the Children At Play Fund, which we accomplished,” Minor said. “It was a much better turnout then I expected, especially for it being our first Zumbathon. We’re able to increase our scholarship fund. It was a good turnout. I was very pleased with it.”

Minor also gave Stephens and the other lead instructor of the Zumbathon, April Lucas, all the credit for bringing the event together in just four weeks.

Lucas said the nine other instructors also made Saturday possible for everyone.

For more information on Zumba classes at Frances Meadows, call 770-533-5850. The center is located at 1545 Community Way, Gainesville.

For more information on the Children At Play Fund, visit

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