Zumba for Lung Health Awareness in Black, Brown Communities

Cleveland woman honors memory of her father, a Vietnam veteran exposed to Agent Orange who passed from lung cancer

Experiencing a parent succumbing to lung cancer can be extremely difficult in many ways. Zoe Brown went through it when her father, Gregory Davis, was diagnosed with lung cancer and died just three quick months later in 2019.

“The doctors were surprised that he lived as long as he did with his exposure to Agent Orange while serving in the Army during Vietnam. Once he was diagnosed, it was very hard watching him trying to breathe. It was like overnight he started struggling to breathe,” said Zoe. 

But she found solace in movement, Zumba specifically.

“I remember how it was so sad watching him go through it. I also remember how Zumba made me feel, even though I was experiencing such a difficult time.  Zumba gave me this positive energy that helped me watch my father go through this transition. I became aware that death was a part of the life cycle. It was hard but also beautiful because he became someone else that I’ve never seen before. Zumba helped me manage that emotion. Zumba was a vehicle for me to figure out how to go through this transition with him. That was really powerful,” said Brown. 

She spreads that power through Island Beats, a movement platform she co-founded with Iris Gonzalez. Brown is pulling her passions together and hosting a pop-up Zumba class to raise funding and awareness for those affected by lung disease and hopes to reach the Black and Brown communities within the Cleveland area.

“We want to spread the joy, energy and confidence that we create with communities that need it. This Zumba pop-up class is called ‘Just Breathe’ and is benefiting the American Lung Association’s LUNG FORCE Walk. But we’ll be doing more than just breathing. You’ll be dancing and wiggling. An hour and half of nonstop partying,” said Brown. 

“I’m excited to reach the Black and Brown communities here in Cleveland. And we want to engage the lung health community to show them the fun, exciting ways to get movement into your life. It’s easy to sit on the couch and watch Netflix. What if you took just an hour a week to move your body. It helps mentally, emotionally and, for me, spiritually, as well.”

Through it all, Brown is honoring the past, present and future. 

“This thing that started because I was grieving my father and was trying to figure out how to cope with it, became a passion for me. Now, I’m grateful to be able to share it with communities that need it for a good cause and in hopes that it will help life-saving research and better treatments for those suffering lung disease,” Brown said.

The “Just Breathe” pop-up class will be help on September 24 at 12PM at Old Brooklyn Social. Follow Island Beats on Instagram @Island.Beats.Cle for more information. All proceeds raised will benefit the Lung Association’s LUNG FORCE Walk which will take place on October 1 at the Cleveland Zoo.


For more information, contact:

James A. Martinez
(312) 445-2501
[email protected]

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