The Rainbow Project’s
2018 Rhumba 4 Rainbow
Swinging with Style
By Hedi Rudd
Walking up to Union South on September 21st, one could hear the Latin sounds outside the large
building as Orquesta MAS – Madison All Stars sound checked for their performance at the 14th
Annual Rhumba for Rainbow, presented by the Rainbow Project. Those coming to take part were
dressed to the nines and eager for the show to begin.
Guests were greeted by Rhumba volunteers and reminded to put in a bid at the silent auction,
which featured a wide array of items to choose from, or to stop and strike a pose at the selfie
To warm up the crowd, Cinnamon Trammel of Cinnamon DanceWorks provided free Salsa lessons
to young and old alike. Emcees Jason Salus of Wyndom Hotel and 93.1’s Krista Hatcher kept the
evening moving along with their lively banter.
Rainbow Project Executive Director Sharyl Kato welcomed the packed room and began the night
with the Extra Mile Awards.
This year’s awardees include:
*Glendale Elementary: “We know that schools have so many expectations to meet on a daily
basis so it is such an honor to recognize the Glendale team for the prioritization of the social
emotional needs of their students.
*Eva Zealy: “As we have worked together with Eva in support of common families over the past
few years, we have noticed that she has a unique ability to gain trust and build strong
relationships with parents and children who have been taught by prior experiences that trusting
others is dangerous and that “the system” cannot or will not help.”
*Kathy Raschke: “Kathy’s dedication to, and support of, The Rainbow Project is apparent by the
number of years that she has been volunteering with the organization. As our longest-serving
childcare volunteer, she is incredibly deserving of this year’s Extra Mile Award.”
*Cigdem Unal: “Cigdem possesses the qualities that are most difficult, if not impossible, to teach:
passion, dedication, courage and confidence. Whether one-on-one with a child in need or training
and advocating larger systems, her excitement, kindness and respect always build bridges.”
*Heidi Beck: “Heidi is committed to connecting the families she works with to community
resources, including The Rainbow Project, in a timely, yet gentle manner. The success of The
Rapid Response Program is supported by the dedication and diligence of the Dane County Crime
*Dr. Carmen Valdez: “The Rainbow Project is very excited to present this award to Dr. Valdez for
all of the incredible and dedicated work she has done surrounding culture, research, literacy,
education and family and community influences on children’s development.”
*WISC-TV Channel 3000: “Media can play a crucial role in how we talk about and respond to
trauma….Channel 3000 has shown an understanding of the pervasive impact of trauma on
families and children and has used that understanding to help change the conversation about
poverty, underemployment, crime and substance abuse.”
The next awards would go to the winners of the Celebrity Dance Challenge. This year four
community celebs were paired with instructors from Fred Astaire East. This year’s celebrities
were Rachel Werner, digital editor at Brava Magazine; Hunter Saenz, reporter at WKOW Channel
27; Zulma Franco, a Madison Police Officer and Kymtana Woodly, investigator for city of Madison
Department of Civil Rights. The quartet of competitors and their partners each brought their own
style and energy to the dance floor, but Zulma Franco won the judges’ hearts and claimed the top
The most anticipated moment of the night was the group dancing of The Wobble,
which brought everyone onto the dance floor as they moved together, allowing
judges to eye their finery and choose winners for the Best-Dressed Awards.
Next up, the Latin Dance Floor Show brought world champion dancers to the floor
from as far away as Columbia or as close to home as Milwaukee. These dancers
brought the heat and certainly provided inspiration for the local contestants of the
Annual Madison Salsa Contest, which followed.
This event is a great “date night” or a fun family affair and the perfect way to end
the sizzle of summer.