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Amityville dancers, gymnasts rally around instructor diagnosed with breast cancer
After her close friend was diagnosed with breast cancer in November, Chris Winston rallied those around her to raise funds for breast cancer research.
“I usually have a solution for everything, but this time I felt helpless,” said Winston, owner of Elite Gymnastics in Amityville. “But after brainstorming, I had some ideas.”
When her business partner, Marie Seaquist, owner of Elite Dance Studio, a separate entity that shares the Amityville building, was diagnosed on Nov. 23, Winston supported her by selling pink ribbons, organizing bake and candy sales and selling pink merchandise. The proceeds went directly to breast cancer research.
Winston even changed the name of her 6th annual gymnastics meet “Flip into Spring,” which ran the weekend of March 15, to “Flip for a Cure.” She asked the nearly 800 competing gymnasts from across New York State to donate at least $2 each.
“So many people support us and for me it was something I’ll never forget,” said Winston, 42, of Bellmore. “The kids have learned so much and they were so unbelievably supportive of the cause.”
After two months of fundraising, on March 27, they presented an oversized $10,000 check to a representative of Pink Promises, a local organization that benefits the New York City-based Breast Cancer Research Foundation.
Seaquist, who has owned Elite Dance Studio for 8 years, was taken aback by the support. The first time she returned from surgery in early January, she saw gymnasts wearing ‘Flip for a Cure’ T-shirts and her dancers wearing ‘Dance for a Cure’ ones.
“The kids even made cards for me they put up on a ‘Wall of Hope’ they created at the dance studio,” said Seaquist, 44, of Bay Shore. “It was overwhelming to see.”
Seaquist only found the cancer because her sister-in-law had been diagnosed first and told her to get checked. She wants to use her unfortunate experience to make the dancers and gymnasts aware of the importance of getting regular checkups.
“By doing this fundraiser, my situation has now turned it into a positive experience for everyone,” she said. “I was just blown away by the kids and their efforts.”
Debbie Sevilla, who worked at the dance studio and gymnastics center, has a 16-year-old daughter, Samantha, on the dance team and 11-year-old daughter, Jessica, on the gymnastic team.
“I’m really glad that my kids had an opportunity to be involved in something so important that can make such a difference,” said Sevilla, 44, of Bellmore. “They’re so proud to be a part of this and it made them happy to know they were doing something for Marie, because everyone loves Marie.”