Richard Simmons leads huge exercise fundraiser in Halifax
World records for biggest group hug and longest line of people sharing a massage set at event
HALIFAX (CP) — Fitness guru Richard Simmons led a gigantic, marathon exercise class Saturday that raised more than $1.1 million for a digital scanner that detects breast cancer.
Breast cancer survivor Joan Helson was among 751 people who danced, jumped and stretched their way through the all-day Bust a Move for Breast Health fitness event at the Halifax Metro Centre.
“It is difficult for me to say just how glad I am to be here, how glad I am that all these people are here,” said the recuperating breast-cancer victim, who completed her drug therapy in December.
“Many of these people have some connection through family or friends with somebody whose life was changed or lost because of breast cancer,” said Helson, before bouncing away for a Zumba dance-exercise workout.
Zumba combines aerobic and muscle-sculpting moves with Latin dance to help participants break out in a good sweat.
There was also a rollicking kitchen fitness party, a yoga class, Pilates and something called a Bust a Move Empower Hour the helped keep the crowd of fundraisers moving before Simmons took command and rallied the troops for the final hour.
“ What an incredible place to be, and what a wonderful cause,” Simmons said to the crowd. “I couldn’t be happier to have played a part in this fantastic event and to be part of this community movement.”
The event raised more than $1.1 million that will go toward the cost of a digital scanning device for a Halifax hospital. Each of the participants had to raise at least $1,000 to take part.
The scanner will increase the number of mammograms that can be provided for women in Nova Scotia and provide more detailed analysis of cellular irregularities that could potentially lead to cancer.
Two world records were set at the event — one for the biggest group hug and the other for the longest line of people sharing a massage.
Instructors guided the big group that overflowed onto the ice surface of the sports complex from a big stage that featured a powerful sound system and huge digital screens that created a rock-concert atmosphere.
Companies had teams participating and, in some cases, friends put together teams to help raise cash for the digital device.
“ We’ve actually been working on this for months,” said Laura Leslie, during a break with friends Ben Boudreau, Cailin MacDonald and Tiffany and Maureen Joudrey, who raised a combined $7,000.
About 700 women are diagnosed with cancer each year in Nova Scotia and at least one succumbs to the disease every other day.
“The digital scanner is a critical tool in early detection, which remains our most effective weapon against breast cancer,” said Helson.