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NH Humane Society gets people to Zumba

Kathy Powers, left, and Vicki Stewart enjoy a Zumba workout, cardio exercise moves combined with Latin music. This particular session took place last weekend at GES as a fundraiser for the New Hampshire Humane Society. Danielle DeLisle. (click for larger version)
May 13, 2009
Fundraisers don't often conjure up images of drumming and Latin dance moves, but that didn't stop the New Hampshire Humane Society from tapping into the Zumba dance craze to raise money.

Zumba is an exercise craze that is fast becoming popular across the country, and it had people working up a sweat at Gilford Elementary School Saturday.

"You get a great workout without feeling like your working out," said Toni McGrath, a physical therapist at Summit Health New Hampshire in Belmont. "It's a class you see results from. I can see where I have lost weight and toned up."

Participants listen to music with heavy Latin beats and perform dance moves choreographed to promote cardiovascular fitness. Not all of the music is Latin in style. There are also modern songs that have heavy baselines and fast beats thrown in for variety.

Marie Baker teaches Zumba classes at the Rhythms of Life Studio, which is part of Summit Health NH, and works with the NH Humane Society. It was her idea to combine the two into a fundraiser event for the society.

Zumbathon sponsors donated money to the dancers, and those being sponsored were able to determine how long they would participate in the two-hour event. There were sweat towels and water available as well as information on the NH Humane Society and Summit Health NH.

Lisa Charest from Summit Health NH said that they had a goal of $5,000 and they met it easily with 28 participants. Some of the participants were Zumba veterans and some were trying it out for the very first time.

"I have done aerobics before," said Deb McMeish, a volunteer at the NH Humane Society, "but I had never tried this before. I had heard about it so this was a great opportunity to try it out."

Theresa Caldwell, the executive director of Summit Health NH, said that they started the Rhythms of Life Studio to get people moving no matter the body type. She was pleased with the turnout of the event and said added that she takes Zumba classes to keep in shape. Through the event Caldwell said she hopes to introduce people to "Zumba" and raise money for the NH Humane Society at the same time.

The NH Humane Society not only adopts out animals, but they provide products and education for pet owners and services like micro-chipping and spay/neutering. The money raised goes to provide care for the animals waiting for homes. According to the NHHS Web site since the opened the new facility in 2006 they have seen a dramatic increase in the number of adoptions with an adoption rate of 90 percent. The NHHS has the fourth highest adoption rate in New England.

"This has been really fun today," said McMeish. "I would definitely do this again. It was really sweaty and a really good time."

The next fundraising event for the society will be the Wine Tasting & Silent Auction on Wednesday, May 20, at O's Steak & Seafood, Lakeport, from 6 Ė 8 p.m. Call the NH Humane Society at 524-8236 to reserve.

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