An afternoon of belly dancing and Bollywood music marked Mission Green Light's "Let's Beat Cancer by Dancing" event at Niles restaurant Mango last weekend. Nearly 80 people helped the organization raise $1000, the charity’s founder Rafi Munim told Patch.
The Glenview-based charity assists women in getting free breast cancer screenings and cancer-related treatments when needed. Its members also promote prevention, particularly in terms of staying in shape and remaining active, explained Sonya Blacker, CEO of health and fitness for Mission Green Light. Staying healthy can help to decrease the risk of cancer in women by 20 percent, Munim added.
“We raise money for those who might not be able to afford screenings, or are uninsured,” Blacker explained. “A lot of women are afraid to get screened because of what they might find—they have to ask, ‘now what?’ So, we do what we can to provide care, in case something is found.”
Blacker owns Arabesque Dance Studios in Chicago and helped Mission Green Light Founder Rafi Munim coordinate the event. One of her studio’s instructors and several of her students competed in the contest. Eighteen dancers—from Illinois, Ohio, Indiana and Michigan—performed a five to seven minute performance for a panel of eight judges to raise money for the organization.
Munim began Mission Green Light with only $2 in his pocket after his own family was affected by cancer, including his grandparents and a close friend.
“I have had many moments when I felt God was very close to me,” said Munim. “I wanted to know what I could do to make a difference in people’s lives. I wanted to help those with cancer and prevent others from suffering from the disease.”
Belly dancing, according to several of the contestants, is a fun way to exercise, build confidence and prevent future illness.
“After a back injury I was told to stay active,” said Dolores Kendall of Chicago. “I got a learn-to-belly-dance DVD and after a year-and-a-half I finally went to a studio to learn.”
Kendall said she has yet to be affected by cancer personally and hopes Mission Green Light’s efforts help to keep it that way.
“I want as much assistance as possible out there.”
Dancer Guadalupe Maya of Chicago told Patch she was dancing in memory of a friend who died from breast cancer at the age of 32.
“She was so young, she didn’t get tested,” Maya said. “She broke a lot of hearts when she died.”
Fran Rice, also of Chicago, has been dancing for 11 years.
“It’s very empowering to women,” Rice explained. “Whether you’re a size zero or a size 20, you can be a sexy, beautiful dancer.”
The People’s Choice Winner of the day was Eliannae Stone of Columbus, Ohio. The overall winner was Anna Mar Del Sur of Washington Court House, Ohio. Mar Del Sur walked away with a $200 prize and will perform Oct. 22 at the Chicago Center for Performing Arts.
For more information about Mission Green Light please email Rafi Munim at firstname.lastname@example.org.