People of all ages wearing bright tank tops, T-shirts and yoga pants went to the Embassy Suites Hotel and Conference Center in La Vista on Sunday to raise money for victims of the typhoon in the Philippines.
The Filipino-American Organization of Metropolitan Omaha and Zumba Fitness sponsored Relief and Rebuild One Shake at a Time. All money raised will go to the Salvation Army for use in the Philippines.
Zumba is an aerobic fitness program featuring dance moves performed primarily to Latin American music.
Jennifer LaMontagne, one of the event’s organizers and a licensed Zumba instructor, said two of her students suggested a dance party to support victims of Typhoon Haiyan, which struck earlier this month.
LaMontagne embraced the idea, and together they organized Relief and Rebuild in just two weeks.
“The Omaha community has always been supportive of the fundraisers we’ve had. ... I’m always so humbled by how much people want to help,” said LaMontagne, who is Filipino.
Maria Anderson, one of the students who approached LaMontagne, was born in the Philippines.
“I know the Philippines is a hard country to live in,” she said. “Seeing that tragedy was sad. People were already trying hard to live life and got hit hard by this.”
For participants such as Arnel and Thea Ramos, Sunday’s fundraiser was a good introduction to Zumba. They attended because they wanted to support the cause.
“It’s exercise in a fun way. It’s an alternative way to be in a gym,” Arnel Ramos said.
A bake sale also was held at the event, an approach that organizers used at a previous fundraiser for Oklahoma tornado victims.
Food donations included Filipino desserts and egg rolls.
“Our culture loves to eat,” Anderson said. “Our culture also loves to dance. We love to just get together and be a community.
“I think that’s what’s going to make this a success. Our community loves to come together to make a difference,” she said.