The energy was stellar, the bass was bumping and Eastern Michigan University students were stepping the night away.
Monday night’s Hustle Your Heart Out event in the Student Center was a success, with more than 500 people in attendance. Guests of various ages danced proudly in their hustle shirts and raised $700 for the American Heart Association.
Zara Northover, a graduate assistant at EMU’s Center of Multicultural Affairs, is the creative mastermind of this new movement. She combined her love of the hustle and her mission of promoting consciousness about heart complications, especially since losing her father in 2012 to a heart attack. Northover said she was overjoyed to see the support.
“The night was perfect, and we were blessed with perfect weather,” Northover said. “The CMA staff and the Hustle Your Heart Out interns did such an amazing job and I am so proud of them. It’s always a great feeling to know that everyone at your event enjoyed themselves, because [the purpose is] to get everyone involved, and we did that tonight.
Northover said EMU President Susan Martin, Vice President of Communications Walter Kraft and the Student Center staff helped make the event as large as it was, and she knows in the future it will only get bigger.
Healthy appetizers and beverages were served all night, and each table had displays of interesting facts about the heart, such as the first open heart surgery being performed in 1893 by Daniel Hale Williams.
Throughout the night, hustle instructors including Sherry Hawkins of Dance with Elegance and Maurice Adams from Mr. Smooth donated their time to the event, by teaching new dances and keeping the energy high.
“The energy is off the hook,” Adams said. “The folks are really attentive; they’re really enthusiastic. They’re a hype crowd. It’s the kind of crowd you’d like to come to a party.”
“Sometimes it’s hard to actually go and actually work out,” Hawkins said. “And if you can make working out fun, people are more quick to do that because they’re having fun. Not only are you learning this, but you can apply it somewhere else if you can go into any type of gathering people are doing that hustle that they were taught tonight.”
During the fundraiser, raffle prizes such as gift certificates to local restaurants and gym memberships were given to attendees. EMU student Ciara Brown won a free night stay in the luxury king suite at the MGM Grand Detroit hotel.
Representatives from the American Heart Association thanked Northover and everyone in attendance for their donations, and said they hope to have the crowd attend the Heart Walk in Ann Arbor May 19.
Gretchen Ward, director of Service EMU and co-chair for the EMU Heart Walk, was thrilled with this unique way to get people participating in a fun activity and has high hopes for the event next year.
“It raises awareness about the importance of heart disease,” she said. “It’s the number one killer and people don’t realize that. I think it’s kind of a silent disease, and people don’t talk about it so I just hope it creates awareness. I really want young people to realize that the choices that you make now can affect your health and will affect you down the road. So making healthy choices like getting out and exercising and moving, eating well, definitely need to start early or it’ll sneak up on you.”
Heather Janae brought her sisters to the event, and said she felt good about supporting the cause.
“I think it’s a great event,” she said. “Zara put a lot of time organizing everything, and it’s really close to the heart—literally.”
After hearing the buzz from around southeastern Michigan and from so many supporters, Northover has high hopes of having HYHO becoming an ongoing tradition at EMU, even after she graduates.
“We have had so much great feedback from the faculty, staff, students and members of the southeastern Michigan region that I feel so proud and happy,” she said. “I was truly pleased, and took notes on how to make the event even better next year. This is only the beginning of this trend and this fundraising movement started right here at Eastern Michigan University, and that was my goal.”
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