By Jessica Reynolds Staff Writer
The Daily Star
---- — Despite recent freezing temperatures, an area woman will host a beach party in Laurens this weekend.
Tracy Bender, of Franklin, is holding a beach-themed Zumba-marathon, or Zumbathon, Saturday at Laurens Central School, where party-goers will have the opportunity to warm up — not with sun bathing, but with the popular Latin-inspired, calorie-burning dance fitness program.
Participants can register for the Zumba Fitness marathon from noon until 12:30 p.m., and the workout will go from 12:30 to 2 p.m. Bender said entry costs $10 per person, and the money raised will go toward her Relay for Life team, Robin’s Angels.
Bender, a graphic designer at The Daily Star, said this will be her 11th year participating in the Relay for Life, which is held in Delhi each April, and her fourth year as captain of her own team.
Robin’s Angels, Bender’s 7-person relay team, is named after her sister, who died from lung cancer in 2002 at the age of 43.
“It was about 12 years ago,” Bender said, with tears in her eyes, “but I still get very emotional.”
Bender said her first experience with Relay for Life was more than 12 years ago, when her son, Zachary, helped out at the first Relay for Life in Delhi. With the event occurring so soon after her sister’s death, Bender said, it was too difficult for her to participate that year. But after her son’s Boy Scout group created its own team several years later, Bender said, she decided to make her own.
Bender said Robin’s Angels raised more than $2,507 for cancer research last year after multiple bake sales, luminary sales, a holiday craft show and other fundraisers. Money raised at Relay for Life events goes toward cancer research, education and patient services, she said.
“It is important to keep supporting the cause so that a cure for all cancers will be found,” she said. “I feel like I am making a difference, even if it’s a small one, in the fight against cancer.”
Bender said she takes weekly Zumba classes at Laurens Central School, and that this is her second year holding a Zumbathon fundraiser. She said she asked her Zumba instructors, Linda Reeves and Holly Deleski, if they would be willing to help, and they agreed.
Michelle Lare, who teaches Zumba at A&E Sports and Occupational Massage Therapy and Gym in Oneonta, will also attend.
Deleski, a secretary at SUNY Oneonta, said the Zumba on Saturday will mostly be “beginning, basic and fun.” She said she is always glad to help when Relay for Life is involved.
“Tracy’s team is called Robin’s Angels, and she definitely is one,” Deleski said. “I think it’s wonderful that she’s doing this.”
Bender said the beach-inspired event will feature giveaways, raffle drawings and Chinese auctions. Some of the prizes will be a pair of Team USA Olympic mittens, Brook’s House of Bar-B-Q sauces and a gift certificate to Long Island Style Pizzeria in West Oneonta. Guests are encouraged to wear beach-inspired, flowered or brightly colored active-wear to match the theme.
“It’s just going to be a good time,” Bender said, “and it’s for a good cause. It will lift everyone’s spirits in the middle of this cold winter. It should be uplifting.”