Marina Montes will be giving up her crown as Miss Long Island on Sunday, but before doing so the Port Jefferson transplant by way of Setauket hosted an unorthodox fundraiser for American Red Cross at Cafe Havana – a salsa class.
"I've had the amazing privilege for being a spokesperson for the American Red Cross here on Long Island ... I said my last event that I do as Miss Long Island, I want it to be reflective of me – I want to salsa, I want to have fun, I want to be in a place that gets people moving and brings awareness to a wonderful cause," Montes said.
To participate in the class dancers donated $10 to the organization.
L.I. Salsa instructor and choreographer Alec Nguyen taught Thursday’s class. Nguyen, who teaches salsa at Cafe Havana, said the pageant winner was very adamant about making this event possible.
"She came to the class and said, 'I want to talk to you about this idea,' ... we spoke to the owner who was very receptive to the idea and did everything he could to make this possible," he said.
Nguyen is also a dentist at Stony Brook University and said being a healthcare professional was another reason why he chose to take part in a fundraiser benefiting Red Cross.
Attendees of the event included Executive Director of Long Island Pageant System Lori Thomas and Energy Fitness Co-Owner Daniel Moreno.
Thomas said by putting together events like the Red Cross fundraiser that Montes has set the perfect example for what characteristics the next Miss Long Island should possess.
“We’re really looking for people that want to make a difference in the community … she’s a role model, she’s an inspiration, she doesn’t just sit back and take publicity … she’s someone that goes out and makes things happen … the new title holder has some big heels to fill,” she said.
By night's end the event raised $350 for American Red Cross.