AROUND NJ

‘Dancing With The Survivors’ Brings Breast Cancer Awareness to the Dance Floor

Dancing With The Survivors flyer. Courtesy of Stephanie Caponigro of The Pink Fund.

By Christine Valdez
Web Production Assistant

October is a month dedicated to raising awareness about breast cancer with various activities being held nationwide. In New Jersey, some local dance studios will try to raise awareness while dancing the night away.

For the first time, four Fred Astaire Dance Studios within the state will be collaborating with The Pink Fund to raise breast cancer awareness by hosting Dancing With The Survivors on Thursday, Oct. 2. The studios — located in Cherry Hill, Morristown, Princeton and Montville — will each be holding a Dancing With The Survivors event featuring several breast cancer survivors. The Princeton and Montville studios will be partnering to host their program together.

According to The Pink Fund Communications Director Stephanie Caponigro, the inaugural Dancing With The Survivors was held in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan on Sept. 23, 2013. For 2014, not only will New Jersey host Dancing With The Survivors, but it will be hosting three of the 14 events being held on the same night nationwide.

Molly MacDonald, founder and CEO of The Pink Fund, first created the event as a way to highlight the healing process for breast cancer patients and their respective families members. She originally wanted to create an event that would be inspirational and that would be held nationally one day.

Caponigro says that the event is to celebrate the recovery of the survivors.

“Dancing With The Survivors is an evening to celebrate a nationwide community of breast cancer survivors who thrive in their recovery and make a difference in the lives of other cancer patients,” said Caponigro.

Throughout the night, survivors will perform routines paired with professional dancers. Some of the survivors will dance with their husbands, as Caponigro explained that some have opted for that option.

“All participating survivors are paired with Fred Astaire Dance Studio professionals, unless they have opted to dance with their husband,” said Caponigro. “As husbands, too, have shared the breast cancer journey.”

The Cherry Hill event hosted at the Fred Astaire Dance Studio will feature six breast cancer survivors. The Morristown event at the Beyer Ford will feature five and the Princeton and Montville event at the Crown Plaza Hotel in Fairfield will feature nine survivors.

Along with dance routines featuring the survivors, the night will consist of fundraising for The Pink Fund. The Pink Fund, which was established in 2007 following founder MacDonald’s experience battling breast cancer in 2005, was formed to help breast cancer patients focus on healing and help them throughout their journey. As a 501(c)(3) public charity, Caponigro says that the foundation helps provide individuals in active treatment some assistance to help cover their non-medical expenses such as health insurance premiums, housing, transportation and utilities.

Statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show breast cancer as the most common cancer for women regardless of race and ethnicity. With 220,097 women and 2,078 men diagnosed in 2011, the number of cases has increased over the years.

What The Pink Fund attempts to showcase along with the survivors at the event is to bring awareness and to celebrate the communities of breast cancer survivors.

At the New Jersey events, all money raised will remain in the state.

“Funds raised at Dancing With The Survivors in New Jersey will be designated for breast cancer patients in New Jersey,” said Caponigro.

Although the dance showcase will be the main feature at the events, Caponigro says that the dance floor will open up for everyone in attendance.

“Once the dance showcase has ended, we will open up the dance floor to our guests to get out and boogie,” Caponigro said.

Meanwhile MacDonald says that it is inspiring to see many breast cancer survivors have the courage to dance and share their story.

“As a survivor, even from a distance, it’s inspiring to see the courageous men and women still in treatment, who have shown even more courage by learning to dance and perform for others,” she said. “Many breast cancer patients ‘hide’ their cancer with wigs to try and appear normal while in treatment. On the dance floor, they openly share their cancer journey and while dancing find a certain freedom and healing.”