Columbia Mall tragedy: Zumbathon for Peace and Strength - Baltimore Post-ExaminerBaltimore Post-Examiner

Columbia Mall tragedy: Zumbathon for Peace and Strength

‘There’s nothing like a great Zumba party to help each other deal with tragedy and heal.’

Claire McGill doing Zumba classes.

Claire McGill doing Zumba classes.

These are the words of Tracy Cox, who runs Freedom Fitness in Eldersburg. Tracy wanted to do something so that the community could honor and remember the victims, Brianna Benlolo and Tyler Johnson, who tragically lost their lives at the Columbia Mall on January 25. A Zumbathon in Columbia just seemed to fit.

Tracy collaborated with Megan Cooperman from the Columbia Association to bring together  nearly 200 people who gathered to dance and remember on the evening of Friday, February 28.

Participants generously gave donations and purchased raffle tickets, the proceeds for which went to the Brianna Benlolo Foundation and Tyler Johnson Foundations. An amazing amount of $1866 was made on the night.

Megan Cooperman said: ‘Thank you to everyone who helped make the event happen. I am so proud to live and work in Columbia.

With everyone encouraged to wear black and white, and green – the color of peace –  the room looked vibrant, reflective and complete. It was a show of inspiration and strength.The event was fun-filled, and yet there was no doubt why everyone was there, and a short meditation at the end filled the room with a more subdued air, as everyone gathered their thoughts and remembered.

I’ve been to a lot of Zumbathons, but this one was for an event still so raw and close to home. It was a wonderful sight to see so many folks coming together for one cause, with an overwhelming sense that, in such tragic circumstances, our passion for dancing is one way to release, remember and rejuvenate.

We danced for Brianna and for Tyler last night, and we danced for love and hope, and for peace and understanding.

And that, if anyone ever asks, is why we Zumba.


About the author

Claire Bolden

Claire Bolden McGill is a British expat who lived in Maryland for three years and moved back to the UK in August 2015. Claire wrote about her life as a British expat on the East Coast and now works in travel and hospitality PR in the UK. She still finds time to blog about her repatriation and the reverse culture shock that ensued - and she still hasn't finished that novel, but she's working on it. You can contact Claire via twitter on @clairebmcgill or via her blog From America to England. Contact the author.
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