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The Connecticut Chapter works to improve the quality of life for people affected by MS in Connecticut and raise funds for critical MS research. Join the movement toward a world free of MS.


Walk MS Team To Honor Petit Family With Zumba Event

April 12, 2012

Walk MS Team To Honor Petit Family With Zumba Event

TORRINGTON, Conn – Dealing with loss can make anyone feel helpless. Many say action leads to empowerment. One Walk MS team has decided that dance can soothe the soul and help lighten the burden.

In a few weeks, the “Forever Michaela” Walk MS team will be hosting their first-annual Zumba for MS fundraiser event in support of the 2012 Travelers Walk MS, presented by North American Power. The event will take place a week before the walk on Sunday, April 15, from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. at the Energy Fitness club on East Main Street in Torrington.

“Don’t call it a Zumba-thon,” jokes Dayna Ollero, whose daughter Elizabeth, 16, can be credited with organizing this event. “It’s nothing that crazy, just people dancing for a great cause and getting a serious workout in the process.”

Zumba is a Latin-infused dance workout that has become very popular in the fitness world within the past few years. Registration for the event begins at 12:15 p.m. and the two-hour Zumba session will begin shortly after, with people urged to come and go as they please.

Registration is $20 for adults and $10 for children on the day of the event. Team t-shirts will also be available for purchase for $10 and all funds raised will be donated to the National MS Society, Connecticut Chapter, to ensure ongoing scientific research to find better treatments and a cure for MS.

Teresa Chappell, Farmington; Daly Cunningham, Cheshire; and Elizabeth Ollero, Torrington; pose at the 2011 Travelers Walk MS in Litchfield. The girls are members of the Forever Michaela MS Walk MS Team, which is hosting a Zumba for MS event Sunday, April 15.

As their team name suggests, the “Forever Michaela” Walk MS team, as well as this upcoming Zumba event, has been put together in memory of Michaela Petit, the youngest victim of the tragic home-invasion that occurred in Cheshire in 2007.

Elizabeth Ollero, 16, one of Michaela’s closest friends throughout childhood, has been fundraising in one way or another since the tragic loss of Michaela and her sister, Hayley, and mother, Jennifer. Elizabeth supports the National MS Society, Connecticut Chapter, because Michaela’s mother had MS and she feels that this gesture helps continue the work of the Petit women.

“These kinds of events are meaningful on many leveles,” admits Dayna Ollero, whose family will be walking in Litchfield. “They are somewhat bittersweet. But they are also a sweet way to bring the community together to remember Michaela and her family for the loving people that they always were.”

For Elizabeth, being involved in the planning of these kinds of events helps to ease the pain of losing her close friend and pays tribute to the time that they had together.

“I don’t want Michaela’s memory to ever fade away,” says Elizabeth. “It’s so important that they are not just remembered as victims, but as the beautiful and outreaching women they were.”

The 2012 Travelers Walk MS, presented by North American Power, will step out from 12 sites statewide on Sunday, April 22.

More than 6,000 Connecticut residents live with multiple sclerosis, a disease affecting the central nervous system. The cause is unknown and, as a result, there currently is no cure. The progress, severity and specific symptoms of MS in any one person cannot be predicted. Funds raised ensure ongoing scientific research to find a cure and also provide for the continuation of vital programs and services offered by the chapter to Connecticut residents affected by MS.

For more information on the Zumba for MS fundraising event, please contact Dayna Ollero at 203-917-2985 or email her at To learn more about Michaela Petit’s story or the “Forever Michaela” Walk Team, go to

To learn more about multiple sclerosis or to register for Walk MS, please visit www.ctfightsMS.organd click the “Walk MS” button.


NOTE: Sarah R. LaRocca is a communications major at the University of Connecticut in Storrs. She is currently conducting an internship with the National MS Society, Connecticut Chapter. LaRocca will graduate in May.

About the Connecticut Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Society

The Connecticut Chapter strives to provide knowledge and assistance to help people with MS and their families maintain the highest possible quality of life. These goals are achieved through vital national and local programs.

About Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis is an unpredictable, often disabling disease of the central nervous system that disrupts the flow of information within the brain, and between the brain and body. Symptoms range from numbness and tingling to blindness and paralysis. The progress, severity and specific symptoms of MS in any one person cannot yet be predicted, but advances in research and treatment are leading to better understanding and moving us closer to a world free of MS. Most people with MS are diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 50, with at least two to three times more women than men being diagnosed with the disease. MS affects more than 2.3 million people worldwide.


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