FORT MYERS, Fla. - Around 150 participants, Zumba instructors, students, women and men of all ages gathered and danced to support children with cancer at a Zumbathon hosted by Florida Gulf Coast University on Saturday, February 25th.

The fundraiser took place at FGCU, Alico Arena, auxiliary gym from 12 to 3 p.m. It benefitted the Children Cancer Foundation and the Candlelighters of Southwest Florida.

The Children Cancer Foundation is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization, that was established in Hungary in 1997. It has been helping children with cancer and their families by providing them monthly financial assistance, vitamins and food supplements as well as health and life style counseling for free. Also it fulfills special requests such as house renovations, bill payments and so much more. Beside families the foundation helps hospitals by purchasing up-to-date medical equipments so physicians can give a better treatment to little patients. However, unfortunately, the survival rate of childhood cancer in Hungary is only 40% as oppose to the 80% in the Unites States. The Children Cancer Foundation was registered a few years ago in the U.S. with the goal to bring children here, who were given up on and were told that it is too late. By getting treatment in the U.S. they will have double the chance to win the fight against cancer. To make this happen the Foundation has already partnered with the Children's Hospital of Southwest Florida in Fort Myers, Fla. and the Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo N.Y.

The Candlelighters of Southwest Florida is a local affiliate of the American Childhood Cancer Foundation. Candlelighters of Southwest Florida provides support, education and advocacy to children as well as to professionals who care for them. It offers several services such as, financial assistance, family activities, death benefit, happy notes, parent meetings, newsletters, and Toy Chest Project in order to help children and their families .

All proceeds of the event benefitted the Children Cancer Foundation. The Zumbathon was a great opportunity for the community to get together for a good cause and support our mission, said Laszlo Meszaros, director of the Children Cancer Foundation. The total amount of donations we counted after the event was $1,260. We really appreciate all the contributions and help of our community Meszaros added.

Attendees contributed to the Toy Chest Project of the Candlelighters of Southwest Florida by bringing toys that earned them free admission. They brought Barbies, basketballs, kites and many different toys children will receive every time they leave the hospital after a treatment. This experience gives them a better memory of being in the hospital.
The Zumbathon was three hours long, but because it is a very intense dancing work out, people took breaks and enjoyed the provided refreshments and also walked around to check out the vendor tables. Lora Ulrich represented the USANA brand for healthy choices, while Erika Matos was selling Zumba clothes and accessories.

"It was awesome! I had a great time and it made me feel really good that I was also helping children in need," said Hadiza Gamatie, FGCU student.

The event built up on sponsorship. A student organization, called PATCH (Project Art Therapy for Children's Health), Campus Recreation and the Honors Program of FGCU sponsored the Zumbathon.

We had a successful turnout. We organized the Zumbathon for the first time at FGCU, but we are planning on making it an annual fundraiser to help children win the battle against cancer. Also we would like to engage even more people next time, said Gala Hoffman, Zumba instructor as well as one of the hosts of the Zumbathon.