Knockout Fit Club In Bemidji Holds Annual Autism Charity Event
Bemidji’s Knockout Fit Club was decked in blue lights and had people lining up to get glowsticks and getting ready to move to the rhythm of the music, all in support for autism awareness.
“After I became a Zumba instructor, I found a way to give back to the community and to the school programs that have served my sons,” owner Beth VanEngelenhoven said.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2018 they determined that approximately one in 59 children is diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. The Autism Speaks organization made the color blue a recognizable symbol for autism.
“We decide to put up as many blue lights as we could find and also in my own home, I change out all of my exterior lights to a blue light bulb, just to, what they say, shine a light on autism,’” VanEngelenhoven said.
The Zumba for Autism event drew in a mixed crowd of Zumba dancers, ranging from beginners to intermediate.
“Zumba is they call it a fitness in disguise. We do all sorts of types of music. Zumba itself is a Latin dance fitness class. So we do salsa, merengue, cumbia, some reggaeton, but we also like to incorporate pop music and hip hop just to have a nice variety,” VanEngelenhoven said.
Zumba student Elizabeth Ledford said that the event brings awareness to a disability that is so important to quite a few of the members at the fit club.
Everything raised from the charity event will be donated to local school programs that serve autistic children and their families. For VanEngelenhoven, she wants people to know that awareness is not only recognizing the disability.
“If they see kids who are having or struggling in a restaurant or struggling in a grocery store, just take a moment to think that maybe what might be going on and what might be triggering or how can they help,“ VanEngelenhoven said.