TAMPA, Fla. — There’s a group of Tampa women who have been looking for an organization that looks like them and speaks to them. So when they couldn’t find one, they decided to start their own. They call it Latinas On The Go.
From raising money for charities to fixing up houses for people in need to motivating one another through networking events, these are some of the missions for the women of Latinas On The Go.
“I just couldn’t find a place where I felt like I belonged to and so I just took the initiative,” said founder Sarahi Terreforte.
Terreforte soon realized there were plenty of other young, career-oriented, Latina women, like herself, looking for a group to call home.
“All these women who are looking for a welcoming inviting space together where they can find empowering words and get encouraged and not only that but grow together and learn from each other,” said Terreforte.
This month, Latinas On The Go are recognizing women in the community who have overcome tremendous challenges, like Mariela Ayala.
“I was disabled for 20 years, something I thought I was never going to get rid of,” said Ayala.
Due to an undiagnosed genetic disorder, Ayala was never able to get her weight under control, pushing nearly 500 pounds.
Now, thanks to medical breakthroughs and the support from Latina’s On The Go, she is doing things she never thought possible. So far she has lost 180 pounds and counting.
“I can truly find out what I am capable of and being able to be around women who are already on the top of their game, I’m like, ‘what is out there because I didn’t know,’” said Ayala.
On July 29, Latinas On The Go will host a fundraiser, "Step into the Light Runway," in which inspirational women like Mariela will be given hair, beauty and fashion makeovers by fellow Latina On The Go Yarrellys Ruiz.
“These women, they have the same dreams and goals as me,” said Ruiz.
Ruiz has been inspired to give back ever since her own life-changing event in March when Tampa Police Officer Jesse Madsen was killed in the line of duty when he stopped a wrong-way driver from hitting her head-on.
“I went to the funeral and I heard all the great things that he used to do for the community and I wanted to do the things that he was doing when he was alive,” said Ruiz.
A portion of the proceeds raised at the event go to Mothers Against Drunk Driving. For more information and to buy tickets click here.