CEL Summer Masthead

Zumba for Mary

Ashleigh Went

Join a two-hour Zumbathon this weekend for a feel-good workout – and we’re not just talking about the endorphins.

Zumba for Mary is part of a fundraising effort to send a local Canberra woman to Russia for a potentially life-changing multiple sclerosis treatment.

Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a debilitating disease that affects the central nervous system. The nerve fibres, which make up our central nervous system and transmit messages from our brain, throughout our body, are wrapped in a fatty sheath, made of a substance known as Myelin. In MS, the Myelin sheath is attached causing inflammation or damage. Areas of scarring (sclerosis) result and these scars can disrupt or even block signals within the brain and spinal cord. These scars may cause loss of nerve fibres and well as their ensheathing myelin.

The disruption or blocking of nerve signals within the central nervous system causes a variety of symptoms, depending on which area of the brain and spinal cord are affected. Symptoms may include loss of coordination/clumsiness, speech difficulties, hand shaking/tremors, extreme fatigue, sight impairments, memory lapses, vertigo, weakness impaired sensation. MS is a progressive illness, meaning that symptoms may become more severe as time goes on.

Last year, Mary and her family heard of a breakthrough treatment called Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplant (HSCT). The treatment isn’t available in Australia, nor is it covered by our health system. HSCT costs approximately $80,000 – and that’s without factoring in flights and accommodation for Mary and her carer.

For Mary, this treatment has the potential to not only halt the progression of her MS, but also prevent her from requiring a wheelchair and drastically improve the quality of her life. For that reason, Mary’s nieces, Sarah and Mary, are campaigning to raise funds to send their aunt to Moscow for treatment.

“When she was diagnosed with MS, it was devastating” explains Mary. “It shook the very core of our family.”

“But you wouldn’t have known that she was unwell. She never complained. She never asked for help. She continued to love her life, putting everyone before herself.”

“Our Aunty has no partner. She has no children. She thinks that because of these reasons her life is not worth saving.”

Sarah and Mary wish to give their aunty the gift of hope.

“Hope that you don’t need a partner or children to feel truly loved. Hope that maybe this treatment will help to halt MS in its dirty tracks. Hope that we are all here with you.”

You can show your support by joining Zumba for Mary on Saturday 10 February at St. Francis Xavier College to dance, sweat and raise funds.

The event will be led by some of Canberra’s favourite Zumba instructors, including Ali Rosenfeld of Subsdance, Alyson Vardos of Zumba with Aly, and Sarah Tulley, plus other special guests. In addition to two hours of Zumba, there’ll be a raffle and prizes to be won.

Not only is it a fun, active way to spend a Saturday morning, but it’s also an opportunity to lend your support to a local family in need.

the essentials
What: Zumba for Mary
Where: St. Francis Xavier College, Barnard Circuit, Florey
When: 10:30am-12:30pm, Saturday 10 February
Cost: $15 online or $20 at the door
Register: eventbrite.com.au

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Ashleigh Went

Ashleigh Went has a passion for all things health and wellness. She’s currently furthering her studies in nutrition, but also has a Bachelor of Communication and is a qualified fitness instructor with over five years experience working in a gym. Among other things, she’s a lover of great food, coffee and fashion. She can usually be found shopping for activewear, in the gym or updating her Instagram @wentworthavenue More about the Author