Home Madison “Feeling fresh and excited:” 19th annual Rhumba for Rainbows coming Friday

“Feeling fresh and excited:” 19th annual Rhumba for Rainbows coming Friday

Salsa dancers at last year's Rhumba for Rainbow event. (Photo by Hedi LaMarr Photography)

When it comes to enjoying a night out or giving some life to an event, there is not quite anything like dancing to really create that spark. That is the idea behind the annual Rhumba 4 Rainbow event that will hold its 19th celebration to support The Rainbow Project in Varsity Hall at Union South on 1308 West Dayton Street this coming Friday, Sept. 8 from 7 pm to midnight. 

The Rainbow Project is a Madison-based organization that serves children and families who have experienced trauma or are undergoing traumatic experiences. 

Sharyl Kato, Executive Director and Child & Family Therapist at The Rainbow Project, first thought of the Rhumba 4 Rainbow event almost two decades ago, and has seen both the event and organization as a whole consistently grow to provide a helping hand for many.      

“There’s a part of me that’s kind of surprised we’re celebrating our 19th Annual Rhumba 4 Rainbow event,” Kato told Madison365. “Last month, we celebrated the 43rd anniversary of The Rainbow Project. We’ve been providing services in the community for 43 years, working with about 18,500 kids and children ages infants through mostly middle school, and their parents and caregivers and families. It seems like a lot, but it’s surprising, because I also feel like we’re all feeling fresh and excited with the growth of the agency, and also with the success that we’ve had with families.”

While Kato discussed the wonderful feeling of helping families in need, the work The Rainbow Project does around trauma can often be difficult as the experiences and situations many children and families deal with make the process even more challenging. Many children and families the organization works with face traumas such as poverty, exposure to violence, exposure to drugs, struggles with mental health, and experiences of racism or marginalization.

One of the things Kato says is most important in light of this reality is making sure they offer things that are restorative to kids and families as well to focus on the positive side of healing.  

“It’s a big event for a very small agency and we have nearly 50 volunteers to help us because it’s truly a work of the heart to bring this together, and that’s exactly why it started you know.” Kato said, highlighting the joyfulness and upbeat energy of the Latin dance Salsa as a piece of a nice evening for the families who have been through many struggles.

“One of the things that we do in our trauma work is not only help with recovery of the trauma, but what research shows is that many of the children and families lose that ability to experience joy and mutual joy, as well as beauty. That’s also something that all of us need, particularly after COVID,” she said.

The event will have Salsa dancers of all ages with special appearances from Fuquan Ferrell & Candace Joyner from Fuego y Hielo, as well as 2023 World Salsa Champions Jhaime Vega & Sacha Fomine. There will also be a dance challenge for a handful of Madison celebrities to come out and represent the talent we have locally. 

Kato hopes the event will continue to drive people to learn more about The Rainbow Project and the work they do in Madison. With plenty of opportunities to both learn and get involved, The Rainbow Project is not short on great groups revolving around areas such as grandparent caretakers, Spanish-speaking mothers, and emotion coaches. Kato was positive that if someone is looking to get involved, they have the space for you.        

“I think awareness and being informed about these issues is one way but I also think about volunteering, and that can be in many different ways,” Kato assured. “We have a couple of retired folks who are grandpa’s, and they go around and repair our broken toys and they’re amazing at keeping things shipshape. Then there are others who help with administering classes and areas along with others who can provide childcare, because we offer three different adult groups.”

To learn more about the Rhumba 4 Rainbow event and purchase tickets, visit the link here.