Crofton Jazzercise leads Race for the Cure warm-up

Crofton Jazzercise Fitness Center won the title of top fundraising team of fitness professionals and earned the coveted spot of leading the 10-minute pre-race warm-up at the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure 5K held in Columbia Oct. 13.

“This was truly a dream come true for me,” said Dawn Scalza, owner and instructor of Crofton Jazzercise. “We’ve always participated in the pre-race warm-ups with other fitness professionals leading us, so it was something I’ve always thought about. Why not us? We could be on that stage.”

Scalza’s dream became a reality after seven consecutive years of participating and raising funds for the Race for the Cure. In those years, Crofton Jazzercise has raised over $25,000 for the Susan G. Komen foundation. This year, it has raised $4,000.

“It was a chilly, raw morning [on race day] and everyone was hunkered down in raincoats and umbrellas,” Scalza said. “At 8 a.m., the rain started to taper and we were excited for the warm-up at 8:25 a.m. and hoped for participation.”

Scalza and her six Crofton Jazzercize instructors, Ellen Asbury, Maria Hildebrand, Erin Singleton, Sunny Blair, Kristen Gonzales and Cheryl Cook took to the stage and blasted Megan Trainor’s “No Excuses” as they began the warm-up for the waiting crowd of over 5,000 individuals.

“People were smiling and laughing. That’s exactly what we wanted,” Scalza said. “A lot of the survivors joined in to dance. We always looked forward to the warm-up [by other fitness professionals] and it was cool to be on the other side and see people excited about the music we were playing and moves we were doing.

“We got what we most wanted to promote. Just getting out there and dancing like nobody’s watching.”

Scalza merged three songs together in the 10-minute routine that included “No Excuses,” “Girls Night Out” by Charli XCX and “Uptown Funk” by Bruno Mars.

“I wanted to mix artists, genres, popular and current songs” Scalza said. “That’s what we do [at Crofton Jazzercise].”

Megan Pringle, WBLA news reporter and Master of Ceremonies, stopped Scalza and the instructors as they left the stage and told the team they were ‘fabulous’ and almost started dancing.

Race for the Cure’s spokeswoman, Kim Schmulowitz, told Scalza their performance was “the most energetic and professional race warm-up we’ve ever had.”

“What got me the most, was Michelle Sharkey of Miss FIT from Ellicott City, who has done the warm-up year after year, who told me ‘That was a fantastic warm-up. You guys looked fantastic,’ ”Scalza said. “That was the biggest compliment. Because it came from another fitness professional on your same level. That was huge.”

Scalza was asked to lead the warm-up 10 days before the race by Race for the Cure Director, Donald Kropfelder.

“I said ‘yes’ immediately,” said Scalza. “I called Kristen [Gonzales], my instructor and friend, crying and said ‘you better sit down. I think my dream just came true.

“We’ve participated for so long we’ve always said, ‘can’t we do that [the warm-up]’ and then it happened. I was nervous of course but super excited. My team of instructors jumped at the opportunity and were amazing on stage.”

This year’s race was especially poignant as Michelle Curtis, former Crofton Jazzercise instructor and recent breast cancer survivor, returned from Germany to participate in the warm-up and walk in the race.

“My thoughts and emotions on being able to participate in the Maryland Race for the Cure as a survivor and to be a part of the Crofton Jazzercise team are beyond words,” Curtis said. “I’ve done this race with the Crofton Jazzercise team many times before and the warm-ups can’t compare to this year. The team of instructors was awesome and definitely got everyone’s heart rates pumping for a great race with fun moves and music.

“The Crofton Jazzercise team brought the house down. I think they should do the warm-up every year.”

Scalza has supported Race for the Cure for the past seven years.

“Breast cancer affected me personally as my mother survived it,” Scalza said. “We have a number of students who successfully fought it [breast cancer] and the fact that the 5K is tied to physical fitness.”

All of the instructors participated in the 5K after the warm-up along with Crofton Jazzercise’s 22 member team, consisting of Crofton Jazzercise’s instructors, students and their families.

“I’m really, really hoping we get invited back because it was an amazing experience,” said Scalza.

The warm-up of the Race for the Cure is usually lead by the gym that has raised the most money for the Susan G. Komen Foundation for that year.

Tree planting

The Crofton Community Library is sponsoring a tree planting event Saturday, 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Twelve willow oak trees will be planted in the parking area of the library.

The oak trees are replacing the ash trees destroyed by the emerald ash borer. Master Gardeners and Master Watershed Stewards will be on site to give instruction as well as help homeowners with questions.

There will also be activities for children as well as refreshments. The library is located at 1681 Riedel Road.

Melissa Driscoll Krol can be reached at aroundcrofton@gmail.com and on Facebook at Around Crofton.

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