About two years ago, I started taking pole dancing classes with my friend, Rita. We were looking for a new, fun way to get into shape and meet new people. We found Twirly Girls Pole Fitness in Pleasanton, California. The owner of the studio, Bel, found out that Rita is a three-time kidney transplant recipient. She had the idea of throwing a fundraiser at the studio to benefit Rita’s 5k walk in San Francisco with the National Kidney Foundation (NKF) — and the Lovely Rita Fundraiser was born.
Making A Difference:
In April 2010, Twirly Girls held their first fundraiser. We attended classes, had a silent auction, raffle and dance recital. We were absolutely amazed and humbled by the outpouring of donations of items, services and time. Twirly Girls raised almost $3,000. Every penny donated was turned around and donated to the NKF.
I decided in 2011 it was time to start donating my time to charity. I receive requests to donate to charities all the time. I have friends asking for money to support breast cancer, AIDS, animals, kids, schools, clean water, e.t.c. However, the economy is slow and money is sometimes short, so all I have to give is my time. For me, it was important to choose charities that had actual meaning to me. Supporting Rita and the NKF was a no-brainer. She was my fellow pole dancer and friend.
So, in the spirit of my new goal, 2011 is going to be even bigger. Twirly Girls hosted a calendar photoshoot. We highlighted the owner, Bel, our guest of honor, Rita, and other people important to our studio. I secured funding from a few local companies, which paid for the majority of the printing cost. From the calendar alone, Twirly Girls was able to donate another $1,000. The Lovely Rita Fundraiser, complete with classes, auction and raffle, is now held every April. We also have fundraising nights at a local pizza place, where the restaurant will donate a portion of the night’s proceeds to the cause. Rita does the NKF 5k walk in San Francisco every May.
Twirly Girls fundraising page
At the 2010 Lovely Rita Fundraiser, I reconnected with an old high school friend, Lety. She took our burlesque class and we had a great time reconnecting and learning our dance. I recently found out that her brother, Dan, was riding his bike 545 miles for AIDS/LifeCycle in memory of their brother, Mike, who died of AIDS in 1995. I found another cause to support. Dan has created a video asking 3,000 people to send just one dollar to help him raise money and awareness. I have been circulating Dan’s video and asking people to share it with their friends on YouTube, Facebook and other social networks. We have also set up other fundraising nights at the pizzeria. Recently, a local gay club’s drag queen show held an event and donated a portion of their tips from the evening to Dan’s cause. The AIDS/LifeCycle ride supports the Los Angeles Gay & Lesbian Center and the San Francisco AIDS Foundation. Although I am not a homosexual, I have many friends who are, so this cause is important to me. Dan does the AIDS/LifeCycle ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles each June. In 2011, he alone raised about $18,000.
Dan’s fundraising page
I recently invited some of my friends who perform as drag queens to come to Twirly Girls. They have taken a couple of classes and, as I expected, they are smitten. They raved about how much fun it was and how they couldn’t believe all of the new muscles they found. One friend found out he was HIV positive three years ago. Since then, Jimmy has committed his life to HIV awareness and prevention. The medication to fight the disease can cost thousands of dollars per month and if one does not have insurance, a person most likely cannot afford the medication. My friend is in this boat. He does the San Francisco AIDS Walk to help raise money for the cause. I cannot imagine what he is going through and so this cause is very near and dear to my heart. The AIDS Walk San Francisco benefits the San Francisco AIDS Foundation. The AIDS Walk San Francisco takes place every July. In 2011, he raised almost $8,000 and did the entire 6.2 mile walk in six inch heels.
Jimmy’s AIDS Walk San Francisco website
Perhaps all of these charities touch pole dancing in some form because I have made pole dancing such a large part of my life. However, it also goes to show that pole dancing can unite many different kinds of people. Finding a charity to support means you have to do some soul searching to determine which causes are important to you. For me, finding causes was easy because I have people I love who are in need of help.
I know that a breast cancer charity turned down a donation from the American Pole Fitness Association a few months ago. I could spend time berating them for their ignorance, however, I know there are many good charities in need of my support and I would rather spend time praising those charities. So, to the National Kidney Foundation, AIDS/LifeCycle ride and AIDS Walk San Francisco, thank you for not turning away my “stripper money.”
This is a Pole Spin Magazine exclusive for Pole For A Cause, written by Lori Myers. ©2011 Pole Spin Magazine. All rights reserved.
Come along with us on Facebook