A local Zumba instructor is honoring her late first husband’s memory by hosting a March 24 Zumbathon at the Lake Ridge Gold’s Gym where participants can dance with the hope of finding a cure for brain tumors.
Lake Ridge resident Joy Egee has been a Zumba instructor for about six years. And about six years ago, her husband died of a brain tumor. He was only 29.
Her husband actively pursued a cure, taking part in three clinical trials and running in 2004 and 2005 in the Race for Hope, which raises money for the National Brain Tumor Society.
Now Egee is hosting a Zumbathon to raise money and awareness for the National Brain Tumor Society through the Race for Hope. She describes the National Brain Tumor Society as “very near and dear” to her heart.
Many people don’t know much about brain tumors “until a friend or a family member is diagnosed with a brain tumor, and find out what their options are, and there usually aren't that many,” Egee said.
In a Zumbathon, participants do a dance workout to latin rhythms in support of a charitable cause.
“Zumbathons are Zumba’s official charity functions,” Egee explained. “Essentially, it’s two hours of dancing fitness and we’ll be taking donations to benefit the brain tumor society.”
Though Egee has participated in Zumbathons before, this is the first time she’s organized one. Five other instructors will assist her in taking the participants through various dance routines.
“I’ve wanted to do a Zumbathon for about three years,” she said. She’s a regular Zumba instructor at the Chinn Aquatics and Fitness Center, Dale City Recreation Center, and Retro Fitness. She subs at Gold’s Gym and Fitness and Health.
Egee is trying to drum up support for her 2012 Race for Hope team, a team she has chaired since the May after her husband’s death in 2006. She’s been running in the Race for Hope since 2004.
“The first two years my husband did it with me,” she said. After his death, there was an outpouring of support for her team.
“But as the years go by, our team has gotten smaller,” she said. “I’m really just trying to invigorate our team and get more interest in joining the race.”
Egee’s husband was first diagnosed with his tumor in 1998.
“It was a fluke – he went to a doctor just for an eye exam,” she said. The doctor spotted a swelling on his optic nerve. When he went to a neurologist, the neurologist said, “You have a brain tumor, and it’s about the size of a golf ball.” He was only a sophomore in college at the time.
It was a stage two astrocytoma. He had it surgically removed and went through radiation treatment.
“He was in remission, if you can say that, until 2003,” Egee said.
During that time, Egee and her husband went through grad school.
“There were periods where we didn’t have health insurance,” she said.
In 2003, he got an MRI. The tumor had returned and swelled to the size of a baseball. He went through surgery, chemotherapy, but “in the end,” Egee said, “the tumor was just too much for his body.”
Throughout his struggle with the tumor, he had participated in three clinical trials.
“He was just so determined to do whatever he could to further what we know about brain tumors,” Egee said. “Supporting clinical trials was so important to him.”
Zumbathon admission for Gold’s Gym members is free. For non-members, it’s $5. Any cash donations at the door after the price of admission are given in full to the National Brain Tumor Society through the Race for Hope. Donations are tax-deductible. If the contribution is under $200, no receipt is required. If the contribution is over $200, a donor may request a receipt so that the donation remains tax-deductible.
The event starts at 11:15 a.m. and runs for two hours. Participants can arrive at any time during the event, but Egee recommends arriving at least 15 minutes before start time in case the room fills quickly.
“What better way to give to charity than to groove for the cure?” Egee asked.