North Miami gymnastic school raises money for Doctors Without Borders
By Jennifer Moreno
Publication: The Miami Herald
When 6-year-old Sunny Suaya saw the images on TV of the thousands of refugees from Somalia desperate to find food and water in neighboring countries, she was moved to help.
Sunny, who takes gymnastics classes, helped create a fundraiser event called “Flipping for Food,” through the Miami Gymnastic and Dance Academy in North Miami, which took place Sunday.
Sunny asked her mother Samantha Suaya, 46, to help her organize the event and send the proceeds to Doctor’s Without Borders, and international medical humanitarian organization that helps distribut aid to Somalis in need.
“I felt sad to see the dying kids left behind, they have nothing in that area,” said Sunny, who attends Aventura Waterways K-8 Center. “I looked at my mom and told her we should flip for food.”
In less than a few days, Sunny’s mother found several sponsors and more than 30 volunteers to help at the event. Sponsors that participated at the event included Costco, Shuckers Bar & Grill and Fuel Medics. Among the volunteers were parents, student members of the Interact Club and Boy Scouts.
Food vendors sold and distributed cotton candy, popcorn and pizza to over 160 attendees as they waited for the event to start.
Inside the cavernous space, children used the gymnastic rings and ropes, practiced backhand springs and jumped across the blue colored piles of thick practice mats.
“We’ve never done a fundraiser at this level before,” said Suaya, who lives in Aventura and works as a coach and fitness consultant. “Sunny has an old soul, she’s always looking for ways to help anyone in
Although the event took place in North Miami, the mayor of the neighboring city of North Miami Beach, George Vallejo, kicked off the event.
The first opening act included Cuba-born gymnast Claudia Mandado, 13, who charmed the audience with her graceful rhythmic ballet dance.
Several children set goals to showcase their skills by having someone donate $5 or more for each flip.
“ I knew I wanted to be a part of this,” said Claudia. “Everyday when I go home and eat, I think about them and I know that by doing this I’m helping.”
For Awa Lodmell, 41,a resident of Sunny Isles Beach who came to support at the event, the cause hit close to home.
“I was born in Senegal in West Africa, to me the continent of Africa holds without a doubt a great gift for all of us,” said Lodmell. “When we choose to get out of our comfort, we have taken a great step to
shift the mentality of this world and that to me is enough.”
The event raised over $2,600. Vallejo distributed trophies to the participants who raised the most money.
“Even through these hard tough economic times, it’s heartwarming to see that people still consider to
sacrifice and give,” he said.