Back in the groove

Local Zumba couple inspired to raise funds for fire fighters

By Dawn Booth, Connect Weekly

Over 100 guests joined together at the Edmonton Stands for Fort McMurray Zumba event on May 14. Local instructors are gearing up to host Fort McMurray’s largest Zumba event on July 16 at Jubilee Plaza. Photo by Megan Stout Photography.

Over 100 guests joined together at the Edmonton Stands for Fort McMurray Zumba event on May 14. Local instructors are gearing up to host Fort McMurray’s largest Zumba event on July 16 at Jubilee Plaza. Photo by Megan Stout Photography.

Fountain of Youth Fitness (FOYF) is hosting a Welcome Home YMM – Zumba Fundraiser Event at the Jubilee Plaza on July 16 at 2 p.m. with 11 local instructors taking part.

The brainchild for the community booster was inspired by Zumba-duo and couple Roxy and Matt Oliver. As founders of FOYF, they wanted to share how the dance-style exercise has helped them get through their toughest of times and bring positive reinforcement back into the city.

“We know what it does for us,” said Roxy. “We all are here and I know dancing isn’t going to rebuild Fort McMurray, but being happy can.”

Rewind two months earlier, the Olivers were left in an unpredictable situation.

On May 3, Roxy, 38, was at the Northern Lights Regional Health Centre recovering from a hysterectomy procedure she had the day before.

Nothing could have prepared her for the series of misfortunate events the day delivered. Once in a hospital bed, as comfortable as one could be post-surgery; she found herself seated in a wheelchair at the hospital parking lot, while thousands were fleeing the city.

“(It was) horrific. All I could do was cry,” she shared with Connect on July 8. “They gave us masks, but it didn’t really help because the smoke was so thick. There was an explosion that was deafening and a big ball of fire at one point.”

On the other side of the city, her husband was scrambling through the convoys of traffic to pick up their sons from two different schools with hopes to get back to their house to pick up their family pets.

Around 7 p.m., Roxy was transported with dozens of other patients on buses provided by the city and Diversified. Having to leave her wheelchair behind to make room for seating, she said the bus ride to safety at Suncor’s Firebag location in Fort MacKay was “long and hard.”

According to a news release issued on May 3, Alberta Health Services (AHS) “successfully moved 73 acute care patients and 32 continuing care patients.”

By the time they reached their destination, it was 3 a.m. on May 4, where shortly after the AHS had arranged to have a 737 plane airlift patients and clients from the oilsands site.

When Matthew finally arrived to Firebag with his sons, two dogs and cat; Roxy’s flight had already left to Edmonton. After several hours of waiting in the STARS Air Ambulance’s hanger, she was brought to Misericordia Community Hospital and was reunited with her family later that evening.

After being discharged, the Olivers set their boys and pets up with Matt’s parents in Lacombe, and they headed to Westlock, so Roxanne could be with her grandmother.

Matt knew his wife needed rest, but had the urge to bring some normalcy into their lives. On May 7, he began seeking out upcoming Zumba classes in the surrounding area.

“I was looking for something good. Some kind of normal,” he said.

What he found was the Edmonton Stands with Fort McMurray Zumba event hosted by Ashley Coutoreille at the Dutch Canadian Centre. When Matt contacted the organizers, he said there was an outpour of support from Zumba instructors across Canada.

At the May 14 event, the Olivers were joined by fellow Fort McMurray residents who were all showered with Zumba gear. With hundreds of guests in attendance, over $4,000 was raised for Red Cross.

“We felt the Zumba love from Canada,” Roxy said. “I wanted to bring it back to Fort McMurray. We were the ones who give and give. It was overwhelming.”

The local event seeks to raise funding for the Fort McMurray Fire Fighters Association. Their charity fund helps local non-profit organizations on a regular basis. Organizers are asking for a minimum $20 donation to take part and expect it to be one of the largest Zumba events to be held in Fort McMurray.

Local Zumba instructors joining the Olivers in the action are Teesha Cox, Cora Dion, Aimory Greer, Becca Jarvis, Tia McCord, Nicole Robinson, Viki Viktoria and Amanda Weger.

“It’s not about dancing. It’s just about moving and having fun,” Roxy said of the upcoming event. “Every fitness level to every age is welcome to join. And with so many local instructors involved, we are excited to see everyone out for this.”

Now that Roxy has had weeks to recover from her surgery, she plans to take part. She is glad she can get back into the groove of her life before the wildfire.

“Zumba is a lifestyle. The fire solidified it. It brings people together,” she said.

For more information or event updates, visit Welcome Home YMM – Zumba Fundraiser Event on Facebook.

– Connect Weekly –