A bright spot in what has been a dark time: Smiles and dancing took over the Church of the Holy Communion Saturday afternoon as dozens came out to support the children of murdered Germantown teacher Heather Palumbo-Jones.
"The community has just completely rallied around this and just has been generous in donating items and their time and money to help Heather's children," says Joanna Young, a friend of Palumbo-Jones who helped organize the fundraiser.
The idea for a theme for the fundraiser came naturally for Young.
"We always danced with Heather at the gym and that's where we came together," says Young.
When approached with the idea, the church's Zumba instructor along with 25 other instructors gave an overwhelming yes. Zumba instructor Edgar Giapanago says, "I had actually met Heather when we did a March of Dimes Zumbathon years back, so I said, ‘Yeah, I'd be glad to help.'"
More than 100 community members showed up to the event, donating more than the minimum $5 donation to enter and generously bidding on the 40 items at the fundraiser's silent auction. Young was overwhelmed by the show of support and adds that Heather would be too.
"She'd throw her hand up in the air and say, ‘What? All this for me?'" says Young, "That was just her and she'd probably be a little embarrassed that we're doing all this for her but very grateful and humbled at the same time."
The Zumbathon fundraiser turned into more than just a dance party fundraiser but also as a way to heal.
"This is something fun in the midst of a great tragedy," says Young, "This was Heather: She was dealing with a lot of hurtful stuff in her own home but when she was with us this is what she did and she was always happy and smiling."
Saturday's Zumbathon raised $6,750 for Palumbo-Jones' children. Those interested in donating can do so at any Regions bank; people can ask to donate to the Conor and Ava Jones Charity Fund. Young adds that people can also mail checks to the Germantown branch of Regions bank at 7744 Poplar Avenue or 7550 W. Farmington Boulevard.
Young hopes to continue Zumbathon dance party fundraisers annually for other area domestic violence victims.