iluna@valleytowncrier.com

EDINBURG - The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley’s recreation center hosted a ‘Breast Cancer Awareness’ zumbathon and wellness expo in support of breast cancer awareness month.

Formerly known as the ‘Shake Your Cha Chas’ zumbathon under UT-Pan American days, evolved in 2012 when Vanessa Thomas, UREC group fitness supervisor joined the university’s rec center.

“I wanted to get all these different people in terms of the medical field,” said Vanessa Thomas, UREC group fitness supervisor. “Whether that be student health, UT Health or the school of medicine. I wanted everyone to come together to table and promote wellness to teach the public and our patrons about the misconceptions of breast cancer.”

Thomas officially changed the zumbathon’s name to ‘Breast Cancer Awareness’ three years ago. She knew Zumba alone wouldn’t inform the community and felt bringing in different campus organizations for the expo would better inform the public and UTRGV students.

“It’s breast cancer awareness week and I think it’s a great event to inform everyone and to get everyone together to raise awareness,” said Zooha Kahn, president of the American Medical Women’s Association (AMWA).

Kahn co-founded UTRGV’s AMWA organization as the former treasurer, serving in its second year at UTRGV. The national organization advocates for women in the medical field and overall improves women’s health.

The wellness expo offered information booths, healthy snacks, raffles, contests and merch. Breast cancer themed shirts were also repped by UREC staff to promote early detection.

“We all know if you catch it early you have a better chance of doing well and that’s what we want,” said Thomas. “We want early prevention but we also want you to have that wellness in mind.”

The cancer awareness event was the first public zumbathon and wellness expo as The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. UREC is also open and free for current UTRGV students.