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Dance fundraiser hopes to help woman with cancer

A fundraiser is planned Sunday for Julia Barrera, noon to 4:30 p.m., at St. Mary's School. (Submitted Photo)

WORTHINGTON -- A meal and Zumbathon fundraiser is planned for Julia Barrera, Worthington resident and St. Mary's Catholic Church parishioner, from noon to 4:30 p.m. Sunday at St. Mary's School.

Hispanic food and desserts will be served following St. Mary's Spanish mass, starting around noon and the Zumbathon, led by America Vergara, will start at 3 p.m.

Spanish Ministries Coordinator at St. Mary's, Mariana Gutierrez said Barrera has been an active member of the church for years.

"She's been very dedicated to the parish. She was always very supportive of any activities we have. When we do any activities for the church or anything, she was the first one to step in and help," Gutierrez said.

Since Barrera was diagnosed with cancer, Gutierrez said the church leadership has watched her health decline.

"We as a church we see her struggling with her sickness. We miss her a lot here because she's getting more and more sick and hasn't been able to come to mass," Gutierrez said.

The church leadership recognized that fighting a sickness like cancer can consume a family's time and financial resources, and in an effort to help ease the family's burden, decided to hold a fundraiser.

"We heard that she wanted to go to Mexico to see her family and we thought that would be a good fundraiser, but then we heard that somebody paid for her ticket, but we still know that she is struggling (financially)," Gutierrez said.

Barrera was one of Vergara's Zumba students until her sickness prevented her from continuing. According to Vergara, Barrera said that while she was still able to move, she wanted to go and see her family.

"Julita (Julia) is one of my students and for a while, she kept coming to class even after she was sick. She kept trying to do as much as she could. Now she is at the point where she can't come to the class because she has tumors in her stomach and lungs.

"I may not have the money to give someone, but I have health and I believe that whatever else I can do, I need to. When I see these loving people, a grandma and mother, that not only is she struggling with health, but she doesn't have funds -- it's sad," Vergara said.

The Zumbathon will last for an hour and a half and Vergara said she is hoping for a good turnout.

For lunch, Gutierrez said they will be serving posole, a hot pork and hominy soup garnished with lettuce, onions, avocado and hot peppers and eaten with tostadas or hard flat corn tortillas.

Also on the menu are tamales, Mexican-style hot dogs (a hot dog wrapped in bacon and topped with onions and hot peppers) and a large variety of desserts like chocoflan, called "impossible cake" because after all the ingredients are mixed together and baked, the cake forms on the bottom and the flan on top.

Gutierrez said Julia is a mother and grandmother. Her daughter is attending Winona State University and her two sons both live and work in Worthington. All of her grandchildren are students in District 518.

Gutierrez said that in spite of her struggle with cancer, Barrera remains upbeat with a positive outlook.

"She is always smiling and energetic," Gutierrez said, adding "(Julia) told me 'I will go to the Zumbathon, but I won't dance, but if when the time comes, if I feel like dancing, I will dance.' That is really part of her character."

Both Gutierrez and Barrera said they hope the fundraiser is well attended and benefits the family.

"If you can make life happier for a person and give them support, I think that will mean a lot for her," Gutierrez said.

Daily Globe Reporter Alyson Buschena may be reached at


Alyson Buschena
Alyson joined the Daily Globe newsroom staff after spending a year in Latin America. A native of Fulda and graduate of the University of Northwestern, she has a bachelor's degree in English with a dual concentration in Literature and Writing and a minor in Spanish. At the Daily Globe, Alyson covers the crime beat as well as Pipestone and Murray counties, community news and feature stories. In her spare time, she enjoys traveling, reading, and cooking. More of Alyson's writing can be found at
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