Aventura - Sunny Isles

Aventura’s Viva Girls — They’re cheerleaders for the senior set and loving every moment

Bringing cheer to the community, the Viva Girls of Aventura rehearse their cheerleading skills every week. They are retirement ages up to 98 years young. Pictured, left to right, are Shirlee Schiller, Barbara Blumenfeld, Rosalie Lewen, Marilyn Robinson, trainer Kemuel Valdes, Joyce Goldberg, Nancy Siegel, Barbara Steinberg, Gloria Fishbein and Joyce Grossman.
Bringing cheer to the community, the Viva Girls of Aventura rehearse their cheerleading skills every week. They are retirement ages up to 98 years young. Pictured, left to right, are Shirlee Schiller, Barbara Blumenfeld, Rosalie Lewen, Marilyn Robinson, trainer Kemuel Valdes, Joyce Goldberg, Nancy Siegel, Barbara Steinberg, Gloria Fishbein and Joyce Grossman.

Just before Mother’s Day, moviegoers were treated to the release of a new uplifting comedy called “POMS,” starring Diane Keaton, about a group of women who form a cheerleading squad at their retirement community.

What many don’t know is that we have our own vibrant group of vivacious cheerleaders living at South Florida’s Vi at Aventura. They’re called the Viva Girls.

Every Wednesday, the nine women, who are ages up to 98 years young, rehearse their cheers before “bringing it” to highly anticipated community events.

Looking back nearly 70 years, Viva Girl Rosalie Lewen fondly remembers her cheer days when she attended Brooklyn College.

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Viva Girl Rosalie Lewen, right, fondly remembers her cheer days 70 years ago when she attended Brooklyn College. However, she can’t remember the name of her classmate in this photo. Photo courtesy of Rosalie Lewen


“Up until this week, my son didn’t even know I was a cheerleader in my younger days,” she said. “With the Viva Girls, I get to have fun and put smiles on people’s faces all over again.”

For two years, the women have met every Wednesday at 12:30 p.m. Their trainer is Kemuel Valdes, and Lewen is the group’s co-founder and captain.

Some were former cheerleaders back in their school days while others are fulfilling a long-lost dream of being on a cheer squad.

The members are Shirlee Schiller, Barbara Blumenfeld, Lewen, Marilyn Robinson, Joyce Goldberg, Nancy Siegel, Barbara Steinberg, Gloria Fishbein and Joyce Grossman. Gloria is the oldest at 98.

“Being on the squad has changed my life 180 degrees and, at the age of 69, I have come out of my shell,” said Viva Girl Nancy Siegel. “I am finally living my dream of becoming a cheerleader and can mark this off my bucket list.”

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Shirlee Schiller is living it up as a Viva Girl of Aventura cheerleader. The nine-woman squad practices every Wednesday with trainer Kemuel Valdes. Paula Demello


Musical Memorial

In honor of May’s Haitian Heritage Month, Haitian American artist and Miami resident Yanatha Desouvre has released a musical gift that includes a recording of a cross-generational duet with his uncle, Daniel Charles Coulanges, who died in 1989.

The duet of Jacques Brel’s “Ne Me Quitte Pas” is part of an 18-track album titled “World’s Finest” that also includes previously lost footage of Coulanges performing. The project has brought to life the emotional music of the guitarist who died of HIV/AIDS at age 28, two years before Magic Johnson shared his important health announcement.

Desouvre is hoping his uncle’s music will help raise awareness about HIV and encourage people to know their own HIV status. All proceeds from the album sales and donations will help establish and fund the Daniel Coulanges Memorial Scholarship Fund.

The family duet has been 30 years in the making and was recorded at the University of Miami Frost School of Music L. Austin Weeks Recording Studio. Funding for the project was achieved through Indiegogo crowdfunding pledges.

“In Daniel Coulanges’ musical masterpieces you will find yourself immersed in France, South America, or in an intimate cafe in San Francisco, Miami, New York, Philadelphia, Pétion-Ville, Port-au-Prince, London, Barcelona, Hong Kong, Tokyo, and so many places around the world,” Desouvre said.

“His music has been remastered and produced, and has opened listeners’ eyes, ears, and hearts to the music, while nudging them to learn their HIV status.”

You can purchase an exclusive digital deluxe version that includes the full album and live video performances for $9.99 at https://www.yanatha.com/store/worldsfinest. The remastered songs are also available to download at Amazon Music.

Enjoy this last concert of season

Members of the Greater Miami Symphonic Band are practicing for their final concert of the season. Mark your calendars to attend, 8 p.m., June 11, at the University of Miami Gusman Hall for a fun musical experience.

The community group, led by Music Director Robert Longfield, will present a program that includes “Second Suite” (Reed), “Ben Hur” (Rozsa), “Melodious Thunk” (Biedenbender), and “The Footlifter” (Fillmore).

Tickets are $15 for adults, $5 for students and children over 5. Purchase tickets at the box office on the day of the concert, or in advance online at www.GMSB.org. Or you can call 305-273-7687.

“The Greater Miami Symphonic Band members are volunteer musicians, many of whom also play professionally, that rehearse every Tuesday from September through July 4. There are approximately 80 members who give of their time and talent to rehearse and perform concerts for the musical enrichment of their audiences of all ages,” said Thom Proctor, GMSB president.

Proctor said GMSB invites organizations like the Life Skills Class from Miami Rescue Mission, Lighthouse for the Blind, and Big Brothers/Big Sisters to attend concerts free of charge. The Band also presents “Young People’s Concerts” in October at Miami-Dade County Auditorium for older elementary school students through high school students in Miami-Dade and Broward counties.

If you have news for this column, please send it to CHRISTINAMMAYO@GMAIL.COM

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