By SHANNON WATKINS
The first local Alopecia Awareness group, founded this July in Pulaski County by Paula Bowman Harding, is now having a fundraiser in the form of a Zumbathon.
“A Zumbathon is a whole lot of fun,” said Valerie D’Intino, a local Zumba instructor. Zumba is a popular Latin-dance-based form of aerobic exercise. “About five instructors will be there,” D’Intino said of the event.
While the event is a fun way to stay in shape and raise money for the fledgling group, it’ll also hopefully serve as a way to raise awareness about alopecia. It’s an autoimmune disease that causes hair loss, even to the point of total baldness and loss of all body hair, depending on the type of alopecia, and wavy, pitted, brittle nails. While it has no other lasting effects and is painless, it can cause its sufferers a high toll in self-esteem and social acceptance, even more so given that many of its victims are young children.
Harding, whose son suffers from the disease, not only started a support group for alopecia sufferers and their families but wants to draw public attention to the condition – so more people will know what it is – and to the group, so any New River Valley sufferers will know they have a place to turn to.
“She was interested in doing something to raise awareness,” said D’Intino of Harding, “So we got excited about it. We said, ‘Hey, I think September is Alopecia Awareness Month.’ So we made it fit. I’m really excited about this. I hope we get a lot of kids out there especially. We want to help her out and get her group off the ground.”
As for the fiscal aspect of the event, “The money will help buy wigs and help send adults and children to alopecia conferences,” said Harding. “Also it’ll go to help local activities.”
“The group started out with two children having alopecia and now we have five children and two adults,” continued Harding. “It’s starting to grow fast and it’s been a blessing to help build self-esteem, and letting them know God has a purpose for their alopecia, and they’re beautiful inside and out.”
Door prizes for the event include $100 in cash, Mary Kay, Avon and Scentsy products, Silpada jewelry, Salon shampoo and conditioner, a free haircut, a gift certificate for two free months at Berry Fitness, a free oil change from The Lube in Dublin and alopecia awareness T-shirts. T-shirts will also be available for purchase at the event for $10 each.
“We’re very thankful for Pastor Mike Honaker and River of Life Church for supporting a great cause,” said Harding. “We’re also thankful for Valerie D’Intino for putting the Zumbathon together, and 2069 UAW Local Union Hall (Volvo) for letting us use their building. Everyone in the community has been very supportive and I’m very blessed to be a part of Pulaski County.”
D’Intino simply said, “It’s gonna be a lot of fun.”
The Alopecia Awareness Zumbathon will be held on Saturday, Sept. 21 from 2-4 p.m. at the 2069 UAW Local Union Hall (Volvo) at 5110 Cougar Trail Road in Dublin. Entry is $10.00 at the door; $5 for children 12 and under. Anyone who wishes to make donations can write checks out to River of Life Church/Alopecia Awareness. For more information, contact Paula Bowman Harding at 616-9925.