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Saturday, May 21, 2022

Focus on Exercise Pumps Up Philanthropic Events

Support health with health, that’s Cindy Rakowitz’s mantra. Whether she’s raising funds to pay for a suffering child’s hospital bills or promoting an event in support of the American Diabetes Association, the goal is simple – to raise money by hosting health-conscious events to help those suffering from health-related issues. Founded in 2013, her Thousand Oaks nonprofit Fit 4 the Cause has worked closely with more than 50 volunteers to raise money for organizations including the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, the Cancer Support Community of VVSB and the UCLA Alzheimer’s and Dementia Care Program. “I knew I had this passion for fitness and in the beginning I started doing fundraisers just to do them,” Rakowitz said. “I was very connected with the fitness community and finally a few years later my business adviser said, ‘You’re walking the walk of a really cool nonprofit.’” Rakowitz uses her previous experience of 15 years as global marketing director at Playboy Enterprises in Beverly Hills to help create innovative events that both promote health and raise money. In the past, Fit 4 the Cause has hosted Zumba-thons and flashmob aerobics classes in public spaces, in addition to traditional methods of partnering with established organizations and selling tickets. In June, the nonprofit participated in the 2015 annual Mud Run of Camp Pendleton and raised more than $1,000 for Ballet for All Kids, a dance studio in Encino and Westlake Village that creates dance routines that cater to disabled and mentally impaired children. “The wonderful thing about Ballet for All Kids is it’s a therapeutic occupational program,” said Bonnie Schlachte, founder of Ballet for All Kids. “All of the wonderful things about taking ballet like self-discipline, focus, increased coordination and body awareness normally isn’t available to kids with special needs. But through our program they’re actually able to access that.” Fit 4 the Cause has sponsored the dance studio for the summer, and will also donate a portion of the money raised from its first ever Miracle of Movement gala to Ballet for All Kids. The gala was hosted Sept. 19 at the Sheraton Agoura Hills Hotel in Thousand Oaks. More than 250 business and community members were in attendance, and Rakowitz said the event raised roughly $30,000 from ticket sales alone, not including the silent auctions that have yet to be totaled. Instead of selling individual tickets, Rakowitz reached out to companies and asked them to sponsor the event by purchasing an entire table for $2,500. Companies such as Edison International in Rosemead and the L.A. branch of the Humana Foundation sponsored the event. Jingling Donations Most people prefer the kind of money that folds rather than the kind that jingles, but this month the Boys & Girls Club of West Valley wanted just the coins. The club hosted its eighth annual Mile of Quarters fundraiser at the Westfield Topanga mall Sept. 12 and collected a large donation of quarters from supporting families and businesses. The free event called for quarters to be laid out along the mall’s lower level for a mile. The organization estimated that a mile of quarters would total more than $17,000. Dozens of community members visited the mall in droves, including parents and grandparents of children in the program. The milelong quarter trail started in front of the Urban Outfitters and throughout the day shoppers added to the trail. The club raised more than $30,000, with the proceeds going toward the club’s programs for disadvantaged youth. Charity Stories El Nido Family Centers in Pacoima hosted a Garden Gala Sept. 19 to both celebrate its 90th anniversary and celebrate its Garden to Table program. The initiative launched last October and offers youth gardening lessons, cooking classes and restaurant management training. … Bonefish Grill opened its newest location in August at the Westfield Valencia Town Center, with half of its revenue on opening day going to the Boys & Girls Club of Santa Clarita. The restaurant raised $5,000 for the nonprofit. … United Cerebral Palsy of Los Angeles in Woodland Hills has named Karen Layfield chief operations officer. Layfield brings more than 25 years of experience in financial services and the nonprofit industry to her new position. Staff Reporter Champaign Williams can be reached at (818) 316-3121 or cwilliams@sfvbj.com.

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