RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — The music is pumping, and the energy is taking over. Toni Blue Washington is throwing herself into a Zumba routine, remembering the moment when everything changed.
“I can only say by the grace of God I got through it,” she says.
In 2012, Washington’s husband Craig, the father of their two children, died from a massive heart attack. He was only 38. Craig had high blood pressure, but his passing was still a shock.
“I could either allow it to make my family crumble, or we could gain strength from it,” Washington remembers.
A source of strength was Washington’s best friend, La Verne Burrus-Johnson.
“Through our conversation, we said let’s put together an event where everyone is happy, smiling,” Burrus-Johnson recalls. “What can we do?”
Burrus-Johnson is a dancer and fitness studio owner. Together they created Dance for Your Heart
“Dancing is a great way to stay active to be fit and just have fun,” says Burrus-Johnson.
That first year in 2014, their dancing raised $2,500 for the American Heart Association. In 2015, $2,500 went to Comfort Zone Camp, which helps children dealing with a death. This year the VCU Dance Team is involved, and the fundraiser is a halftime takeover at next week’s women’s basketball game.
“This is something that can help you and help others around you,” says Burrus-Johnson.
Everyone is invited to sign up to participate. Washington knows Craig will be shining down on the group, as they turn grief into a good cause.
“I think he would be very proud,” Washington says. “I think he’s smiling.”
Follow this link to sign up for the Zumba Halftime Takeover! Dance for Your Heart 3 event. It is taking place Sunday, January 17 when the VCU Women’s basketball team takes on Davidson. The game starts at 6pm at the Siegel Center.
A Kids Zumba Dance For Your Heart event will be hosted by iDanze Fitness Studio on February 21.