“Dance Away Cystic Fibrosis” teaches people about dancing and disease

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Left, right, back, right.

Students tried to mimic the dance instructor among tables covered in purple tablecloths and violet balloons anchored down by mason jars filled with lavender flowers.

Hosted in the Eynon Ballroom of the Chamberlain Student Center on Thursday night, Dance Away Cystic Fibrosis toted a purple color scheme. Purple occupies a special meaning for the event’s host, Rowan’s Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA). Purple represents Cystic Fibrosis.

According to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, the disease is “a progressive, genetic disease that causes persistent lung infections and limits the ability to breathe over time.” More than 70,000 people suffer from this disease worldwide.

This year’s Dance Away Cystic Fibrosis was the fourth annual event held in the honor of Colette Bleistine. Bleistine was a student at Rowan, where she was the vice president of Special Events for PRSSA. She died in 2012 after being placed on a double lung transplant waiting list in March of that year.

“We hold this in honor of her every year to raise money and to remember that she was someone who was here. She was a student. She was apart of our organization and she dedicated a lot of time to our work,” said Colleen Scott, senior public relations major and president of PRSSA.

A memorial honoring the former vice president of Special Events for PRSSA,Colette Bleistine. She died in 2012. -Photo Editor/Amanda Palma

From tables selling hot chocolate or raffle tickets to a Dine and Donate night at Chickie and Pete’s, PRSSA held four fundraisers over the last month leading up to Dance Away Cystic Fibrosis.

Melissa Livingstone, the Dance Away Cystic Fibrosis Chair for PRSSA, said she started planning the event over the summer. Once she knew more about Colette’s story, Livingstone spent the next three months developing the event and fundraisers that would help the club reach their goals. In addition to continuing to honor the legacy of Bleistine, PRSSA set a goal to donate $500 to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.

Bleistine’s parents attended the event, as they have for the last three years. After they received flowers and a card, Colette’s mother, Nancee Bleistine spoke to the attendees about her daughter. She informed students about the Colette W. Bleistine Paying it Forward Foundation, which donates money to victims of catastrophic events and scholarships to students who have a passion for community service, just as their daughter did.

“She was very inspirational. People today still tell me about how when they are going through something they think about Colette and all that she endured, because she never complained,” Nancee Bleistine said. “In the midst of it, she still cared about people.”

After Nancee Bleistine’s speech, the dance instructor, Kelsey Martino of Kelstar Kardio, brought students back onto the dance floor to perform a zumba style exercise.

The gathering attracted 40 people, creating a personal and meaningful environment.

“This is my first time at this event, but I love the energy here. I can tell the people who organized it were very passionate about the cause,” said Mavish Khan, senior journalism major. “I love seeing students come together in honor of a Rowan student.”

As the night came to an end, the club called raffle tickets and five lucky winners were awarded with prizes. The students and club members finally found out if they broke their donation goal.

PRSSA shared Colette Bleistine’s story and personality during their fundraisers. As of Thursday night, they raised $534 for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation—not accounting for the Chickie and Pete’s Dine and Donate.

“Two of her favorite quotes were ‘Life is too short to be anything but happy,’” Nancee Bleistine said. “And the other quote, which I think really suited her so well was, ‘Your problems are never bigger than your purpose.’”

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