'Hustle Your Heart Out' raises $263

Eastern Michigan University’s Center for Multicultural Affairs raised $263 at the fourth annual “Hustle Your Heart Out” dance Friday night, nearly hitting its $300 goal. More than 200 students filed into the Student Center ballroom for a night of dance lessons and food to raise money for the American Heart Association.

The event was free with a suggested donation of $5 in exchange for raffle tickets. The raffles were held with prizes donated by local businesses such as MGM Grand Detroit and Jamaican Jerk Pit.

“It’s to bring awareness toward heart disease and to raise money towards education and funding life saving research,” said Tara Tomcsik of the AHA. “It stays in Washtenaw County but funds a variety of programs.”

Ebony Walls, the graduate assistant for the event and for the Center of Multicultural Affairs, said the purpose of the event was to “bring a philanthropic night of dance, fun and laughter to all those in the EMU community” in addition to raising awareness with the AHA.

A lot of hard work was put into the event according to Walls. A small crew of one professional staff member, one graduate assistant and six student programmers began working on “Hustle Your Heart Out” in October 2014. This included planning the theme, structure and sponsorship plan for the event.

“We have a lot of students on campus who have a passion for dancing,” Walls said. “Also, the American Heart Association has deep root connections within the hearts of EMU faculty, staff and students.”

The deep roots Walls referred to include the Washtenaw County Heart Walk, an annual walk that takes place on campus in May. It is chaired by Heather Lyke, EMU's athletic director.

Money was raised for “Hustle Your Heart Out” by a voluntary raffle of $1 and $10 tickets, and “Hustle Your Heart Out” t-shirts were also available.

Their hard work paid off with students lining up outside the ballroom at 7 p.m. Tables adorned with Hershey's Kisses, balloons and heart-shaped facts about heart disease circled the dance floor everyone seemed to be avoiding at first. However, encouraged by the music and a dance instructor, the crowd made their way to the dance floor.

Starting out with “The Bounce” and some line dancing, the rookie dancers stumbled their way through the steps until they got it, finally putting the steps together to dance along with the energetic music.

The main entertainment for the night was provided by Maurice Adams, a dance instructor from Detroit. Part of the point was to encourage exercise and healthy decisions.

“We’ve been here since we started,” Adams said. “We're working out. We’re moving.”

Students also got down on the dance floor for fun and for the cause at hand.

“I came because I saw other people, like she said,” Precious Humphrey, a sophomore majoring in chemistry, said. “And I just wanted to see what was going on. [And] to be part of the cause.”

In Michigan, the American Heart Association has raised approximately $16.1 million since 2009. The majority of that money goes to schools in and around Southeast Michigan.

“The lead cause of death is cardiovascular disease,” Tomsick said. “On average, heart disease accounts for 33.8 percent [of deaths] in Michigan. If you combine all cancers, it still doesn't equate to the number of people who die of cardiovascular disease.”

Walls added, “We pride ourselves on living healthy lives, and we want to spread that.”

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