Fitness groups raise money for fire victims' family

Jim Lynch
The Detroit News
Felisia Newby of St. Clair Shores dances a workout routine during a fundraiser for the Burrell family in Detroit. The Detroit Fitness Community hosted a fitness fundraising event to help the Burrell family after a fire that killed their two sons, Quartez and Cortez in Detroit, at Bert's Warehouse on Sunday, Feb. 16, 2015.

Detroit — Detroit's fitness community turned out on a cold Sunday to do what it does best in support of a grieving family.

Instructors from several area exercise groups gathered at Bert's Marketplace in Eastern Market to raise money for the family of Cortez Burrell, 17, and Quartez Burrell, 12. The two boys died as the result of a fire at the family's east side home on Feb. 6.

A crowd of more than 40 gathered for the event, in which people donated $10 and families gave $20 to participate in a continuous afternoon of exercise routines for the brothers, who were active in sports. Others, not up for the exercise, came to Eastern Market simply to contribute to the cause.

"I just heard about the tragedy and decided I wanted to come down and make a donation," said Lamont McCord, a 68-year-old Detroit resident. "Every day, some kind of tragedy is impacting someone's life somewhere. ... They may be having a hard time paying for the funerals."

According to the Detroit Fire Department, the incident occurred shortly before 5 a.m. in the 8200 of Lyford near City Airport.

The fitness groups who helped bring Sunday's Quartez & Cortez Burrell Fundraiser together included JC Jones Bootcamp, the Detroit Tough gym, Advocare Detroit and the Detroit Zumba All Stars. In addition, the Prodijee Dance Crew also performed.

Patti Dukes-Jordan, a fitness coach and co-organizer of the event, got involved because her daughter was a classmate of Quartez Burrell at Detroit Merit Academy.

"She had to come home that day from school when she found out," Dukes-Jordan said. "She was a little emotional. She was concerned about Quartez's parents and, of course, his brother.

"We've done fundraisers like this before, for things like hospitals. But with something so personal, it's good to do it on this level."

Investigators believe the fire was accidental and started in the first-floor living room near a staircase, which would have made it impossible for anyone to go up or down the stairs during the fire.

Both parents of the brothers made it out of the home but the boys were trapped upstairs. Their father made repeated attempts to rescue them but was driven back by heat and smoke, according to a neighbor.

Quartez died in the family's home in the fire. Cortez died just days later at Detroit Receiving Hospital from injuries in the fire.

(313) 222-2034