Liberty University students and Lynchburg residents are preparing to kick off the Christmas season with a workout Saturday, Dec. 1 at the first annual HIS Vision Christmas Zumba Event.
Everyone in attendance must raise $30 in order to participate, which is enough for the HIS Vision Project to provide a free eye exam and glasses for one child.
Innovations is a student-run public relations firm at Liberty that collaborates with HIS Vision, a non-profit organization that works to provide eye care to children and young adults, both locally and internationally.
“By giving local children eye care, it really helps bring under-privileged children out of poverty because if they can’t see, they can’t do anything,” Olivia Witherite, firm director of Innovations, said. “They can’t get educated. It’s not as easy to socialize, make friends or do anything that a person (with perfect vision) would do. I think it’s kind of an overlooked cause because obviously you need necessities like food, water and shelter, but if you’re providing eye care, you’re providing an indirect way for people to fight poverty.”
The Christmas Zumba Event will be held at Brookhill Church on Cifax Road in Forest, Va. from 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Zumba has become more popular in recent years, combining a dancing and party atmosphere with a workout.
According to Innovations account executive Heather Zentz, the HIS Vision Project and Innovations started working together in September after Liberty graduate and former Innovations worker Haley Collins assumed the role of director of marketing for the HIS Vision Project.
Innovations and HIS Vision primarily created the event as a fundraiser to help local children receive eye care, but it will also allow participants the chance to work out and possibly win prizes.
“We’ve organized a lot of giveaways,” Witherite said. “The community has been really great in getting involved.”
Witherite also said that they have received gift cards to use as prizes from Lynchburg businesses, including Sweet Frog, Wasabi and several tanning salons. Best Buy donated an iPod Shuffle to the event. JC Penney donated Christmas decorations used from previous years, and Prospect, Va.’s J & J Treeland donated a Christmas tree and decorations that will be auctioned at the end of the event.
“It’s all local, and I really think that’s important, to notice what’s in your own backyard,” Witherite said. “There’s a lot of need in the greater Lynchburg area that I think people tend to overlook. By holding this event, we’re promoting it locally, but people will see the direct results of where their money is going.”
Getting the community involved is one of the main reasons that the event will be held at Brookhill Church. Innovations has not neglected people at Liberty, though.
Zentz said that during the week after Liberty’s Fall Break, they organized an event to raise awareness for the cause. About 50 people stood outside DeMoss Hall with signs saying things like “hisvisionproject.com” or “vision is a way to get out of poverty.” Some of the students even wore blindfolds to attract attention to the cause.
According to the HIS Vision Project Facebook page, the organization “is dedicated to help children and young adults see a brighter future through eye examinations, medical treatment and prescription glasses. HIS Vision’s mission is to eradicate needless blindness and visual impairment internationally, one individual at a time.”
Anyone interested in participating in the Christmas Zumba event can register either in person Dec. 1 at Brookhill Church or online at hisvisionproject.com.