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The Flutopia Initiative Set to Kickoff Second Annual 5k

by and on July 23, 2014 3:45 PM

Giving back and being involved in the community has always been important to flutist Cathy Herrera.

To combine her love of music with the desire to help others, Herrera to created The Flutopia Initiative, which encompasses two annual events: the holiday musical and the Flutopia 5k.

The Flutopia Initiative, Herrera says, is a project designed to inspire musicians to give back to their communities by "p(l)aying it forward" through the gift of song and outreach. The initiative's slogan is "Flutists inspiring musicians to change the world, one concert at a time."

Herrera says her initial idea was to work with the National Flute Association, which numbers about 1,500 members, to put on concerts to benefit a cause of their choice. While this hasn't yet taken off, Herrera has organized three successful events in State College as part of The Flutopia Initiative to benefit the State College Food Bank, Centre Volunteers in Medicine and Doctors Without Borders.

Herrera's passion for music and physical activity stems from her parents — her mother is a musician and her father a track and cross country coach.

"Running and music are an important part of my life," she says. "It's also part of who I am to do outreach."

Through friends, Herrera learned about medical mission work in South America and decided it was something she wanted to become involved with.

"I realized that this was a great opportunity to organize concerts to promote arts and education," she says.

The first event in The Flutopia Initiative was a holiday musical in December 2012 at the Robert M. Sides Family Music Centers on North Atherton. From the beginning, Herrera said she knew this was going to be an annual thing. The proceeds raised were donated to the State College Food Bank.

The second annual holiday musical took place last December. Between then, however, Herrera wanted to add another event. Thus, the Flutopia 5k was born. More than 100 people participated in the run/walk last year, which featured live music stations throughout the race course.

The event raised about $1,200 for its beneficiaries, Doctors Without Borders and Centre Volunteers in Medicine (CVIM).

"We're thrilled to be a part of it," says CVIM Marketing, Communications and Events Coordinator Sue Forster.

Part of CVIM's budget goes toward community-sponsored events, she says, and the funds donated from the Flutopia 5k "helps that part of the budget."

The second annual Flutopia 5k will take place at 8:30 a.m. on Saturday, July 26, at Tom Tudek Memorial Park. There will also be a Flutastic 50-yard kids run.

This year's race will feature the musical talents of: The Flight of the Bumblebee (Naomi Seidman, Shiqun Oh, Sarah Rajtmajer, Cecilia, Leskowicz, Ay Kawasaki and Katie Reese); Diane and Smitty Toulson; Black Satellite band members Kyle Hockenberry and Larissa Gryschuk; Singers Isaiah and Elijah Adu, accompanied by Carol Pharo; World Drums (Carol Lindsay, Alexa Krepps, Jennifer and Chris Bittner); the Herb McKinstry Brass Quintet; and Flutopia Jazz (Arthur Goldstein, keyboard, Andre LaVelle, bass, Jaren Angud, drum s, Cathy Herrera, flute, Rei Phillippi, saxophone, Tyler Campolongo, trumpet, and Bob LaBarca, trombone).

While Herrera hopes that as many people as last year sign up for the race, she says most of the names she's seen thus far are new.

Participants in this year's race can also elect to add a $3 donation, which will be used to purchase recorders for orphans in Guatemala.

Herrera plans to visit Antigua, Guatemala, next March and bring the recorders with her to give initial lessons to about 1,000 orphans in four schools. She will also introduce the children to chamber music.

"It's so wonderful to be able to give the gift of music," she adds. "There's a lot of opportunity for outreach and help for the underprivileged," she said.

The third annual holiday musical will take place in December. For more details, click HERE.

To register online for the Flutopia 5k, click HERE.

This story was produced by the staff at the Centre County Gazette. It was re-published with permission. The Centre County Gazette is a weekly publication, available at many locations around Centre County every Thursday morning.

Brittany is the staff writer for The Centre County Gazette.
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