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Friday, February 03, 2023

Downtown dance party promotes UF health organization

Bo Diddley Community Plaza in downtown Gainesville turned into a community zumba class Saturday night.

Children, adults and dogs gathered on the plaza’s grass and followed the instructions of a microphoned instructor, hands stretched above heads and hips shaking.

The class was part of “Night of Dance,” the first event of its kind hosted by UF HealthStreet, an organization that works to inform people about health care and research. About 350 people attended, taking part in the class and visiting food trucks and health-related vendors that offered free massages, grass tennis and other activities.

The event’s purpose was to inform the Gainesville community about HealthStreet and the organizations around the city that it promotes, said Vicki Piazza, the HealthStreet director of operations. While this was the first time the event was held in the organization’s three-year history, staff plan on hosting it again next year.

“It was such a wonderful opportunity for the community,” Piazza said. “They came together to dance and to learn about health screenings and health education. It was an amazing event.”

Piazza said the event was inspired by a “Day of Dance” attended by HealthStreet founder Dr. Linda Cottler in St. Louis.

“We modified it a little bit and brought it here as a way to bring awareness about HealthStreet to our community,” Piazza said. “I think we accomplished that.”

Barbara Beck, who was volunteering at the event with local nonprofit Hands On Gainesville, said the event was a chance for the organization to teach more people about science.

“Here (kids) can learn about energy conversion and how much it takes to light a bulb while they pedal,” Beck said. “Science and technology is something we can be part of.”

While some participated in both the class and the event activities, Madine Rawe and her yellow labrador, Davy Crockett, were content to just watch. Rawe, a frequent UF Health Shands Hospital volunteer, said events like this one are important to the city.

“It’s what makes us a community,” Rawe said.

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