One local team is looking to use energetic dance to help raise money for cancer victims, survivors and their caregivers.
The Portsmouth team, named Flo's Virgo, plans to hold several events this month to raise money for the American Cancer Society. One of the events is a Zumba party, which will be held Saturday, March 31, from 9 a.m. to noon at St. Barnabas Church.
The team is also planning a craft fair to be held March 31.
The team is now in its third year of fundraising, which began after the death of a relative.
"My mother-in-law (Florence Colicci) passed away in 2009 from lung cancer," said the team's leader, Kim Colicci. "You see people, you hear people that have cancer. When it's right in your house and your family, you want to smile for everybody…when she passed, we knew we needed to make a difference."
The team is named after Florence's first e-mail address.
Another member of the team, Michelle Cote, has witnessed where money raised goes and how it helps not only patients, but caregivers and family members as well.
"I was there (Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston) for 26 days," Cote said. "I met this one woman and her family. Her 21-year-old son was there; he had some kind of leukemia.
"...The other brother that was going to donate the stem cells...When they take stem cells, they ask you if you want to have them blessed. Then they blessed them and had a birthday party since he is almost being reborn. That's what our dollars are doing...
"I see there's a light possibly at the end of the tunnel. Without the money we raise, they wouldn't be able to do that. It's an eye-opening experience."
"It's like they are treating people, not just patients," said fellow team member Sue Farrier. "Even small donations make an enormous difference."
Team Flo's Virgo is also selling April calendars to raise money. For $10, a person purchases an April calendar, which can be seen at right, and receives a raffle ticket.
Everyday, a raffle ticket is drawn to win a gift certificate on that day.
Businesses, who donated gifts and certificates, include Tito's Cantina, East Bay Martial Arts, Newport Hairquarters, Maher Garden Center, Ching Tao, Cornucopia, Fatulli's, Spavana, High Point Salon, Allen's, Chaves Garden, Becky's Barbecue, Aquidneck Meat Market, Newport Vineyards, Pickle's A Deli, Newport Athletic Club, Ferreria's, Newport Marriott, Food Works, Reidy's, Karen's Hair Design, iTunes, Bridge to Fitness, Fieldstones, Portsmouth Shop,Anthony's Seafood, Target, Cindy's Cafe, Diane Myers, Peak Fitness, Scampi's, Island Booksand I-Hop.
Proceeds will benefit the American Cancer Society.
Last year, all Relay for Life teams on Aquidneck Island raised more than $90,000. This year, to date, there are 27 teams and 113 participants on Aquidneck Island.
All the teams will walk at the Relay for Life, an overnight, 18-hour relay on May 18 and 19 at the Gaudet Middle School in Middletown. Members of the community are welcome to attend the relay and show their support.
"People need to know they are making a difference. We have proof. There are plenty of survivors that are out there because of the support we have," Colicci said.