Zumba class zips more than $5,000 to Wounded Warriors

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By Laura Lewis, Reporter

CALABASH—Zumba Gold teacher Sara McGrail has Calabash VFW Post 7288 dancing these days.

McGrail, who teaches the popular Latin-style exercise classes on Monday and Wednesdays nights and once-a-week yoga at the Post on Carter Drive, recently orchestrated a fundraiser to bring in more than $5,000 for the Wounded Warrior Project.

McGrail organized silent and Chinese auctions April 15, raising $5,203 at last count to donate to Wounded Warriors through the Calabash VFW.

McGrail said every time she watched advertising for the Wounded Warrior Project on TV, she felt compelled to help.

“How can anyone who knows what these men and women in uniform have been through not respond to their message?” she says.

The Wounded Warrior program is designed to help severely wounded troops readjust to life once they return home.

McGrail’s idea worked perfectly, she said, because the Post already raises money annually for Wounded Warriors. Post leaders were enthused when she asked to have the Zumba party and fundraiser at their facility.

To say the class’ classy fundraiser was outstanding would be a “low-ball” description, Post commander Ray Ketcham says.

“It’s beyond our expectations,” Ketcham said Tuesday.

At Veterans Day every November, the Post has a golf tournament as its biggest fundraiser for Wounded Warriors, typically raising about $5,000.

Now, thanks to McGrail and her Zumba Gold students, this year’s amount should double to about $10,000 if everything goes right in November, Ketcham said.

“She’s a go-getter,” Ketcham said of the energetic teacher and fundraiser.

McGrail, a retired senior accountant from the Washington Metropolitan area, said she has chaired many fundraisers including for The Long Bay Symphony, the Carolina Master Chorale and Temple Emanu-El, all based in Myrtle Beach, S.C. She also represented The Long Bay Symphony at Dancing with the Horry County Stars in 2010. Prior to that, she was a Rotarian in northern Virginia where she participated in many fundraisers.

McGrail started teaching Zumba two years ago at the North Myrtle Beach Aquatic & Fitness Center, where she still teaches.

In addition to her Zumba license, she is a water aerobics, group fitness and registered yoga instructor. She started all her fitness activities after retiring to Myrtle Beach.

In her latest fundraising effort, McGrail solicited her Zumba students, whose response was overwhelming. Many of them took fliers and requested donations from local businesses. Two women collected donations from family members, friends and acquaintances. Another student brought in significant donations from friends. Gift baskets and gift certificates were donated by several students.

Many other Zumba students and their husbands helped by setting up and running the fundraiser.

Don and Jacky Wolford, McGrail’s dear friends and Zumba members, worked with her for many hours preparing for the event and snagged numerous donations from local golf clubs. Don, an Air Force retiree and member of the Calabash Elks Lodge, obtained an additional $350 donation from the Elks that was to be presented this past Tuesday night.

McGrail paid all expenses for fliers, donation request forms and other miscellaneous items and says she was happy to do so.

“I am so grateful to the commanders and members of the VFW for their support,” McGrail says. “They have been so kind and generous.”


Laura Lewis is a staff writer at the Beacon. Reach her at 754-6890 or email llewis@brunswickbeacon.com.