URI student, alumnus to host yogathon at URI to raise money for nonprofit Edesia

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Nov. 17 event part of Greek Life Philanthropy Week

KINGSTON, R.I., Nov. 4, 2015 – Two yogis with ties to the University of Rhode Island were doing a dolphin pose the other day when they decided to change the world.

Lauren Toracinta, a 2006 graduate, wanted to hold a “giant” yoga class for students. Kerry Donovan, a senior, wanted to help a Rhode Island nonprofit that helps malnourished children worldwide.

“Flow to Feed” was born, a yogathon Tuesday, Nov. 17 on URI’s Kingston campus that is one of many events during Greek Life Philanthropy Week, Nov. 15 through 21, a time when fraternities and sororities team up to raise money for charities.

The yogathon starts at 7 p.m. in the ballroom at the Memorial Union, 50 Lower College Road, and is open to URI students as well as the community. The cost is $25 for non-URI students.

Participants can expect one hour of baptiste style power vinyasa, a full-body workout of back bending, balancing and stretching guaranteed to calm muscles and minds.

“I see 200 people coming together and moving as one,” said Toracinta, who will teach the class. “Not only is your body going to feel relaxed and open, you’re going to do something big for others.”

That goodness is for Edesia, a Providence nonprofit that makes Plumpy’nut, a vitamin-packed peanut-butter paste hailed as a miracle food to fight childhood malnutrition. All proceeds from the event will go to the organization.

Some 220 million children suffer from malnutrition, a malady that not only kills, but also causes serious health problems, like stunted growth. Since opening in 2010, Edesia has touched millions of children from Chad to Pakistan.

“It’s so satisfying to help an organization that is based in Rhode Island and tackling an important health issue – childhood malnutrition,” said Donovan. “We’re thrilled to contribute to their global mission.”

Donovan, who is majoring in marketing, first heard about Edesia through the Make Your Green Count social media campaign created last March by URI public relations students. A member of the Lambda Beta chapter of Chi Omega, Donovan thought Edesia would be a perfect organization to support during Philanthropy Week.

“Edesia is so happy we’re raising money for them again,” said Donovan. “They’re honored to be part of an important week for the Greek community at URI.”

Donovan and Toracinta are both yoga enthusiasts.

Toracinta, who majored in coastal policy and management at URI, said she started doing yoga a decade ago. She was a “gym rat” for years, weight lifting and running on a treadmill so she could “drink and eat what I wanted.” One day, a friend suggested she take a yoga class. She was hooked.

“I felt amazing afterward,” said the Charlestown resident. “We call it a yoga high. It’s euphoric.”

Two years ago, she opened the Rhode Island Yoga Center on Fortin Road in Kingston. Donovan, a marketing major, has been volunteering at the center for the last year, helping with social media in exchange for free yoga classes.

Yoga also brings peace to Donovan, of Newport. Yoga emphasizes breathing – deep inhales and exhales – that put bodies and minds in balance, said Donovan. She practices yoga at home daily.

Besides raising money for a good cause, Donovan hopes the yogathon will inspire people to sign up. “Yoga helps people cope with the ups and downs of life,” she said. “It’s great exercise – and encourages spiritual growth.”

Local businesses will also be at the event, with some proceeds from sales going to Edesia.

For information about the yogathon, contact Toracinta at 401-284-0320 or Donovan at 401-633-5321. Participants are expected to bring their own mats, although two dozen will be available for use.

Other events during Philanthropy Week include:

* “Jeopardy,” Nov. 16 at 7 p.m., Keaney Gym, 75 Keaney Road, on the Kingston campus.

* “Hour Wars” fundraising, Nov. 17, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., in the Memorial Union.

* “Family Feud,” Nov. 18 at 7 p.m., Keaney Gym.

* “Quad Collection,” Nov. 19 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Donations of toothpaste, razors and other toiletries, as well as non-perishable food, will go to Rhody Outpost Emergency Food Pantry at St. Augustine’s Church.

* “Greek Idol,” Nov. 20 at 7 p.m., Keaney Gym.

With the exception of the yogathon, all money raised during Philanthropy Week will go to the Harry Amaral Memorial Scholarship Fund, which provides financial support to Rhode Island students in the state’s Department of Children, Youth and Families Secondary Tuition Assistance Program. Amaral was the enrollment services director at URI until his death in 2010.

Pictured above: Lauren Toracinta, a 2006 graduate of the University of Rhode Island, does a yoga pose in her studio at the Rhode Island Yoga Center. Kerry Donovan, a senior at the University of Rhode Island. Photos courtesy of URI.