Elite Denver Athlete and Local Talent Among Special Guests at Fitness Festival


Christine Pomponio-Pate

Big names are set to headline the first-ever Bethel University Fitness Festival (B.U.F.F.) this Saturday, March 26, at the Bethel University Courtyard. Guest speaker Christine Pomponio-Pate of Denver, Colo., and guest performers, the Rawr Cats from Bethel University plan to bring their dose of talent, charisma, and knowledge to B.U.F.F. this Saturday.
     Christine Pomponio-Pate is an International Federation of Bodybuilders (IFBB) athlete. Pate is also a fitness model, actress, stepmother of two, and mother of one. She has competed and placed in the top six at the Figure Olympia and Figure International, the biggest contests in her sport, in addition to competing and winning several other figure competitions. She has graced several magazines such as Muscle & Fitness, Flex, and Ironman. Pate has been an athlete all of her life, including 10 years as a soccer player. She is also part owner and author of titles of Milverstead Publishing, LLC, a niche publisher that donates part of its profits to a variety of charitable organizations. A believer of God and giving back, Pate is someone who enjoys giving back to those in need. She will be the guest speaker during the B.U.F.F. lunch from 11:15 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
     The Rawr Cats are Bethel University’s dance team and one of Bethel’s newest student-athlete groups. Team members are Katie Stricklin, Indigo Bailey, Devin Hartdige, Erin Brown, Katie Pope and Kim McCormick. The dance team is led by Carone Tharpe. Coach Tharpe's experiences with dance include being featured on MTV's America's Best Dance Crew as a member of Southern Movement, So You Think You Can Dance, and Travis Payne's One Mass Dance. He also minored in dance at Middle Tennessee State University. The Rawr Cats have performed during the Bethel University homecoming football game and during several of Bethel’s basketball games, including a show-stopping performance with the award-winning Bethel University Cheerleaders. The community can watch the Rawr Cats perform during closing ceremonies this Saturday at 4 p.m.
     Bethel University Fitness Festival will be from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Bethel’s main campus in McKenzie. Created by Bethel University Fitness Society founder Christopher Ray and its president Ashton Carnahan, B.U.F.F. is a one-day event that celebrates and raises awareness of the fitness lifestyle. The event will consist of activities and booths from Bethel’s various organizations and the surrounding community to help promote healthy and active living.
     The historic event will kick off with a 10-mile bike race benefitting the Cole Tanner family beginning at 9 a.m. The cost for the bike race is $15 per person during early registration and $20 at the gate. Proceeds will go to the Tanner family to help with medical expenses. Early registration is encouraged. Those interested can register via Bethel University’s Facebook page or via phone at (931) 209-4732. During the bike race, there will be a children’s bike race, which will be $5 to ride throughout the duration of the race. After the bike race, there will be a lunch session (we ask for everyone to please provide your own lunch for the event), with some surprise entertainment and Christine Pomponio-Pate as the guest speaker. Booths and activities will begin at 12:30 p.m. These booths are being provided by Bethel’s various organizations and friends from the community. At 2 p.m., there will be a Zumba instructional class with certified Zumba instructor, Annette White. At 3 p.m., there will be the first-ever Mr. and Miss Bethel Fitness competition, where students will be competing in various contests throughout the day to determine who’s the fittest male and female on campus. At 4 p.m., the day will conclude with a special closing ceremony, with awards from the day’s event.
     For those interested in learning more about B.U.F.F., please contact Christopher Ray at (731) 415-4613 or via email at or Ashton Carnahan at (931) 209-4732 or via email at For further updates on the Bethel University Fitness Festival, please “like” the Bethel University Fitness Festival on Facebook at or our main Facebook page at