The 17th annual Rhumba for Rainbow fundraising event is set for Friday, Sept. 17, and The Rainbow Project Executive Director Sharyl Kato said the need for early trauma intervention care is needed more than ever.
“We know a lot of things have stopped or slowed down but our work has not,” Kato told Madison365. “It has actually increased because you already have the presence of a trauma or multiple traumas but then you add the pandemic.”
The annual event, titled “Rumba 4 Rainbow: A gala event to end child abuse and prevent domestic violence” is being held in a hybrid format with an in-person and a live stream option. The in-person event will take place Friday, Sept 17, 7 p.m., at Union South’s Varsity Hall. People who attend the in-person event will be required to provide proof of vaccination, or that a negative COVID-19 test was taken within 72 hours of the event.
Rhumba 4 Rainbow raises money for The Rainbow Project which is a nonprofit located on East Washington Avenue on Madison’s near east side that has been providing child and family services for young children who have experienced trauma, including child abuse, child sexual abuse, neglect and exposure to domestic or community violence for more than 40 years.
The event will include live performances from local and globally known dancers. Carine Morais and Rafael Barros are eight-time world champion dancers from Sao Paulo, Brazil; and the Salsabrositas out of Milwaukee are world youth champions that will perform. The dancing duo Benny Ayala and Ashley Magana are coming from Portland, Oregon, and members from Zafire Dance Company out of New York City will also be performing.
There will be a Latin dance routine by members of Barrio Studios, a silent auction, food, and a local celebrity dance challenge. The celebrity challenge will have six dance couples with people from the police and fire departments, as well as Dana Fulton from Channel3000, and a representative from Culvers, who is this year’s sponsor.
Kato said the event should celebrate the 16,500 families that have worked with The Rainbow Project over the years, and to recognize the joy and the success the families have made.
“We even have adults who used to come to Rainbow as preschoolers who come and who thank us and are grateful that they had Rainbow when they were younger,” she said.
Kato said there will also be an award ceremony recognizing local leaders like social workers, nonprofit leaders and others who help further the mission of Rainbow.
“They are the unsung heroes who we know are doing such good work,” Kato said.
All of the funds raised will go toward The Rainbow Project, which like other organizations has an increase in expenses and challenges from the past year.
The organization has partially transitioned to a telehealth format and provides computers, or internet access for families that need it. They are still making home visits when needed and providing individualized therapeutic coping kits for children and families.
The kits can have activities like treasure hunts, games, books, stress balls, art projects, art supplies or educational articles.
Staff are in contact with children and families more than pre-pandemic, sometimes meeting multiple times a week, Kato said.
After a difficult year, she hopes this event will recognize the resiliency and courage of families, children, staff and The Rainbow Project.
“We wanted to do something spectacular this year to lift everyone’s spirits,” she said.