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Ridgewood Resident Supports Barre Fitness Instructor Battling ALS

Ridgewood resident Michelle Tzoulafis and her longtime barre fitness instructor Winnie Dunn at 5K for the ALS Association. Photo Credit: Michelle Tzoulafis
Winnie Dunn, formerly of Ridgewood. Photo Credit: Michelle Tzoulafis

RIDGEWOOD, N.J. — A rapidly progressive neurodegenerative disease is breaking down former barre fitness instructor Winnie Dunn's ballerina body, but Michelle Tzoulafis is making sure that her instructor's support system remains strong.

Tzoulafis will hold an Oct. 21 fundraiser — "Kicking ALS" — at Chestnut Street's Memoire for Dunn, who is battling ALS.

"All I really want to do is make her better, but I can't," said the Ridgewood resident, who took a barre class with Dunn at Vitality Fitness.

The classes often became one-on-one sessions during which Tzoulafis says she got to know Dunn as a "kind and special person."

Tzoulafis ran a 5K race with Dunn to help raise money for the ALS Association. That alone wasn't enough, she said.

"After the race I still felt like I didn't really do anything," she said. "I wanted to do more, and the only thing I knew how to do was gather everyone together so she knows how much she's cared about."

Tzoulafis hasn't seen her instructor since Dunn moved to Jersey City. Keeping in touch has become increasingly difficult as the ALS claims Dunn's speech and hand-control.

"It's so drastic of a change because she was in the best shape... and now she can barely pick up a bar of soap," Tzoulafis said. "It makes you realize [ALS] could really strike anyone."

MORE INFO: kickingALS@gmail.com

CLICK HERE for Kicking ALS' Facebook page.

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