Kelly Cares hosts Zumba class in the stadium
Jenna Wilson | Tuesday, October 6, 2015
When you are diagnosed with any type of cancer, you fight like a champion. Paqui Kelly, two-time breast cancer survivor and co-founder and board president of the Kelly Cares Foundation, understands that fight.
Kelly founded the organization with her husband, Irish head coach Brian Kelly, after her first experience with cancer.
“I was sick for 18 months for the first time around. After I got better, I wanted to do something to help,” Kelly said. “I saw a lot of things when I was sick, and I was thankful that I had all the insurance that I needed, rides to chemo, people to take care of me during times that weren’t very good days.
“There were people, single people, who were struggling doing the same things I did. I found out that there are a lot of non-profits that have lots of little ‘angel people,’ as I call them, those single people, because they need help just like everyone else. That was where the idea started.”
Monday, the organization held “Paqui’s Pink Out Zumba,” a free Zumba class on the field at Notre Dame Stadium, Kelly said. More than 900 people attended the event and participants received free goody bags and t-shirts.
“It’s a lot of fun, and you can’t go wrong with movement and music,” Kelly said. “I’m so excited to be a part of it. We share stories and [talk about] how much has changed because of the amount of fundraising, education, new drugs and early detection programs.”
Kelly said this is the second year the foundation has hosted Zumba in the stadium.
“Cancer doesn’t just happen in October. Our theme for Paqui’s 2015 Wellness Playbook is educate, thrive and support,” Kelly said. “Those are the things you need to do. If you have an illness, you’ll need to educate yourself about that illness. You are going to have lots of support and to let yourself accept that support. The thrive part [of the theme comes in] when the people supporting you thrive off of you becoming better. It’s all part of the healing process, in my experience.”
The Paqui’s Playbook series was created after the organization felt that breast cancer support was lacking in the South Bend area, Patrizia Martellaro, the marketing and development manger for the foundation, said.
“There is not a lot in the area during October. So the series was created and designed to touch everyone with a bunch of different activities,” Martellaro said. “It is meant to get people educated on breast cancer and what they can do as a survivor or someone going through it or someone who just cares about the cause.”
Martellaro said that the foundation wanted to plan a fun event that everyone could get involved with during Breast Cancer Awareness Month. The event was designed to bring in students from the University, as well as those from the surrounding South Bend community.
“Because health is one of the pillars of our organization, and staying healthy, having a healthy lifestyle is so important to preventing any kind of disease, including cancer, we wanted to do something health-related that people could get involved in,” said Martellaro.
According to Kelly, the event was simply designed to raise awareness for the cause.
“For the people that have gone through it, it is something to help them celebrate their health,” she said.
Throughout Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the foundation will hold numerous different events as part of the Paqui’s Playbook series, Martellaro said. In addition to the Pink Out Zumba Event, the foundation will be holding a Pedal in Pink Cycle event on campus in the Rockne Memorial on Oct. 27.
“What we hope people get out of it [is] to motivate each other to go get their mammograms and have good health habits. That is the goal,” Kelly said.