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Brandon News

Zumbathon in Tampa aims to raise money for rape survivor

Published:   |   Updated: January 9, 2014 at 10:01 AM

TAMPA — Traveling from one therapy appointment to another nearly every day requires a specially equipped van that can accommodate Queena, the incapacitated 23-year-old survivor of a brutal rape outside the Bloomingdale Regional Library.

With the family’s existing van showing its age, friends have organized fund-raisers to help pay for a new vehicle, starting with a zumbathon on Saturday at the Powerhouse Gym in Channelside from 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. Zumba is a form of exercise that couples dance and aerobic elements, choreographed to include hip-hop, salsa, merengue and other forms of dance. A zumbathon is a group zumba party that often is used to raise money for charity.

Tickets for the “Let’s Dance for Queena” zumbathon are $10 in advance and $15 at the door. To buy them before the event, send an email to or go to the gym at 1120 E. Kennedy Blvd., Suite 129, in Tampa.

The Rough Riders, a Tampa organization known for its local service projects, gave the family the existing van five years ago. It is not running well, and family and friends are scrambling to raise money for the new one, which is expected to cost about $45,000.

Queena was attacked outside the library in 2008 when she went there one evening to return books. The attack, just before she was scheduled to graduate from high school, left her unable to walk, talk, see or speak. Her attacker, Kendrick Morris, was convicted of rape and assault and is serving a 65-year prison sentence.

Queena’s family last year decided to go public with her first name and photographs in an effort to bolster fund-raising for her many needs.

Heather Rollert, a zumba instructor at Powerhouse, said she learned about fund-raising efforts for Queena when the family went public with her name. She said she has 16 instructors selling tickets for the zumbathon and hopes to get 100 to 200 participants for the Saturday event.

In addition to the zumba session, there will be drawings and a silent auction.

A golf tournament is scheduled Feb. 15 at River Hills Country Club in Valrico. Details for that fund-raiser will be released within the next few days, Vuong said.

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