This past Friday, Oct. 6, the Rainbow Project hosted its 13th annual Rhumba 4 Rainbow fundraising gala for child abuse and domestic violence prevention at Varsity Hall in Union South on the UW-Madison campus.

During its more than 30 years of operation, The Rainbow Project has been hosting programs dedicated towards preventative and responsive resources for child and family violence with a particular focus on Latino communities.

The idea for the fundraising gala came from Rainbow Project Executive Director Sharyl Kato’s love of salsa dancing and a desire to do something fun.

“It’s really a time to celebrate the success of the families working on their trauma,” said Kato. “Just knowing that the community is coming together for them really changes trauma survivors’ world views and lets them know the world does care about them.”

The 13th annual Rhumba For Rainbow paid tribute to community leaders Meg Miller and Marcus Miles who recently passed away.

Every year the event includes several components to entertain, engage, educate, and acknowledge attendees from throughout the community.

One of those events is a Celebrity Dance Challenge, where local celebrities train with professional dancers and compete during the event in “Dancing with the Stars” like competition.

This year’s participants included BRAVA magazine Assistant Editor Rachel Werner, NBC 15 anchor Sakura Anwer, Fox 47 anchor Michelle Carolla and Joe Daguanno, the director of marketing at Mid-West Family Digital Marketing.

Madison Police Department’s Michael Flores won the dance competition at Rhumba for Rainbow Oct. 6.

There was also a continuation of the Department Dance Duel between the city’s police department and fire department. Madison Fire Department’s Michael Flores battled Detective Kymtana Woodly of the Madison Police Department in this year’s duel. Flores was victorious.

For attendees who love to dance, there was be a general dance contest that people signed up for during the event.

Other entertainment included a salsa dance floor show featuring World Salsa Champions from all over the country including Uriel Garcia & Vera Rowe, Natasha Silva & Jonathan Ibarra, Carine Morais & Rafael Barros, and Milwaukee’s Salsabrositas.

In addition to dance contest, attendees were able to participate in a silent auction and a best-dressed contest.

Andre Johnson (left) and Mahlon Mitchell enjoy the 13th annual Rhumba 4 Rainbow Oct. 6.

Several community members and organizations were honored for their dedication to children and families affected by trauma and abuse as 2017 Extra Mile Award recipients at the event including:

Community Program: Building Bridges Program, Catholic Charities
County Representative: Diane Dengler, Social Worker, Dane County Department of Human Services
School Representative: Ann Shedesky, Kindergarten teacher, Gompers Elementary School, MMSD
Early Childhood Representative: Dr. Dipesh Navsaria, Associate Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health and Founding Medical Director of Reach Out and Read Wisconsin
Rainbow Project Business Ally: UW Humorology
Rainbow Project’s Youngest Donor: Emma Schlotthauer

“Rhumba for Rainbow really is a celebration of hope,” Kato said.

Written by Jordan Gaines

Jordan Gaines

Jordan Gaines is a cultural critic and Madison365 contributor.