Second annual dance event to raise awareness for cancer

Published 10:00 am Wednesday, November 1, 2023

Blessed Body & Fitness gym is “dancing for health and cure” in LaFayette’s downtown square this Sunday at 3 p.m. The event, in its second year, is used to spread awareness for cancers and raise funds for those affected. The square, right across from the gym, will be blocked off to give attendees plenty of room.

Pamela Whitlow-Holloway, the owner the Blessed Body & Fitness and originator of the event, started it last year as a way to spread awareness for breast cancer. She had lost her mother-in-law to bone cancer.

“I was just trying to do something different to target the community about health and how important it is,” said Whitlow-Holloway.

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This year the theme is expanded to all cancers, with the motto “whatever color cancer sucks.” Attendees are encouraged to wear the color representing the cancer that has affected them or their loved one. Many cancers have specific colored ribbons, used to show support and awareness. A list of the colors and their corresponding diseases are on Blessed Body & Fitness’s Facebook page.

“We are trying to paint downtown all those different colors,” Whitlow-Holloway said.

There is a $10 registration fee for the event. All the money raised will go to a local cancer patient. However, the gym has not had a patient come forward yet. If you or a loved one wish to be considered, contact Whitlow-Holloway at pamelaholloway@bellsouth.net. If no one comes forward, the proceeds will go to The Spencer Cancer Center. All donations and sponsorships are welcome.

“If they can’t pay the $10, we won’t stop them from coming because we are spreading awareness,” said Whitlow-Holloway.

The event hits on a very real problem in cancer treatment: affording it.

“Some people don’t have the income and, with inflation, with increase of technology … things have increased in cost,” said Narfunda Ross.

Ross, the co-founder of Team W.H.I.P and 15-year cancer survivor herself, will be a guest speaker on Sunday. Team W.H.I.P (Working to Help those In Pink) provides educational, emotional and social support to the breast health community of Chambers and Lee counties of Alabama, and Harris and Troup counties of Georgia. 

Sarah Bryan will also be a speaker for the TogetHER for Health initiative, Operation Wipe Out, which raises awareness and provides resources for HPV (human papillomavirus) and cervical cancer prevention in Alabama. The initiative started in Chambers County and has since spread to other parts of the state.

The event is important not only for cancer awareness and fundraising but for prevention as well, Ross said. According to the American Cancer Society getting more exercise, like dancing, is associated with a lower risk of certain types of cancer. 

For the dancing portion of the event, attendees will be treated to lessons by local instructors. Gwen James will be putting on “Line Dancing with Gwen” and a Zumba lesson will be taught by the gym’s instructor Tera McCarty.

As Holloway calls it a “dance ministry,” there will be a prayer followed by a releasing of balloons for both cancer survivors and those that have passed on. 

Health Vendors will be on-site to give out resources and Information. Unity Wellness Center from Opelika, which does work with HIV/AIDS populations, will be there. The Equitable Neighborhood Initiative (ENI) will also have a table. ENI connects neighborhoods to resources to increase health equity.