Group Exercise Raises Money for Multiple Sclerosis of Canada

Walk-a-thons, bike-a-thons, and even occasional dance-a-thons are not unusual methods for charity fundraisers. Getting attention for your workout-based campaign will be easier if you set up something a bit out of the ordinary for those looking to get involved. Mike’s Steps, based in Québec, seems to have found what people want when they hosted their first ever Zumbathon in the Centropolis section of downtown Laval, QC on September 15.

Mike’s Steps is run by four friends, Pina Viscusi, Lorenza Barbuto, Arabella Rossi and Tracy Kelahar, who hold events throughout the year to raise money for the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada. They set out to help the organization when their friend was affected by the disease. Their event consisted of an hour and a half class and raised almost $2,000. The group raised a total of $12,000 for MSS of Canada last year.

Zumba Fitness has become an international sensation in the past few years. Founded in 2001, the “global lifestyle brand that fuses fitness, entertainment and culture into an exhilarating dance-fitness sensation” can be found in 185 countries and is practiced by an estimated 14 million people. Zumba “fitness-parties” use simple choreography set to fast-paced world music to give participants a “total-body workout that feels like a celebration.”

Mike’s Steps’ event was run by Maria Papadopoulos, a Fitness Instructor and Personal Trainer who’s been in the industry for over eight years.

“Teaching is my outlet,” she says. “I love to motivate others to get fit, and love the feeling that comes with helping others start reaching their fitness goals.”

MSS of Canada began in 1948, and is the only Canadian volunteer organization that supports MS research and services. Those services are wide ranging and include giving out information on MS and referring people to community services, self-help and support groups, recreation and social programs and even financial assistance.

MS is an unpredictable and frequently disabling disease of the central nervous system which attacks a protective covering wrapped around the nerves of the brain and spinal cord. Canada has one of the highest rates of MS in the world, and about 100,000 Canadians live with the disease. MSS of Canada estimates that roughly 1000 new cases are diagnosed here each year, meaning three Canadians are diagnosed every day.

Viscusi called the day “a great success” and says, “social networking is a great help in spreading word of our events” to the public. She also notes that those looking to fundraise should see what they can offer donors in return.

“We realized that people don’t mind giving if they get something, like chocolate, a Zumba course, or getting half-off from a retail store when they purchase a ticket going to the cause.”