Mid-South Heroes: Man encourages Memphians of all ages to have fun, get fit

Updated: Aug. 29, 2019 at 4:42 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - This month’s Mid-South Hero is a mover and shaker, encouraging Memphians of all ages to have fun while getting fit.

Praises pour in from students who take Zumba from Julian Williams.

He balances working full-time at Ford Motor Company with teaching classes three days a week at the Kroc Center in Memphis. And he is no ordinary instructor.

"It's my class. It's my house. Come enjoy yourself. We're going to have a good time. I try to hit you with some knowledge. I have a quote before each class. I'm trying to get your spiritual side, as well as your physical side in each class,” said Williams.

His passion for teaching with purpose was inspired after losing a close friend to breast cancer.

Several years ago, he started with two people. Today there are more than 40 men and women in the classes, with a wide-range of participants, and various ages from all walks of life. Some have fought and beat cancer themselves. That’s why he dances and grooves on Thursday’s for Pink World Order.

"You see that pink, and some people in my class had breast cancer and defeated it. And people who might be going through stuff, they know they can come here relax, have a good time. Even though it’s a fight, I know it’s a hard fight. We can have a good time and hopefully you can dance your way to a cure,” said Williams.

Williams and some of his students leave the hardwood and go out in the community to support breast cancer research.

"We do at least 10 to 12 breast cancer races per year,” said Velda Gates, participant.

Williams packs a punch with will power, heart and love which has some still trying to figure him out

"How such a huge heart can fit in that small frame he has,” said Gates.

"Julian's personality is one of a kind. He just makes us feel very… like we're doing a good job and that part, I think, is what keeps us coming back. Over and over,” said Laurel Reisman, participant.

Julian Williams, your heart for people, the community and your love for healing through dance makes you this month’s Mid-South Hero!

If you know someone worthy of being called a hero, nominate them here.

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