- Special Sections
"Love what you do, do what you love" was Nina Leavitt Watkins' favorite quote, and that's what she lived by.
Watkins was a wife, mother and daughter, who, at 27, lost her life after only five months of marriage and being a mother to a 9-year-old girl.
"She was very sweet, nice, caring and easy to get along with," said Sharon Rashidi, owner of The Perfect Workout where Watkins frequently exercised. "Everyone liked her."
Watkins was exercising at The Perfect Workout on June 6, when Rashidi said Watkins came to her complaining about a pain in her head. Rashidi said Watkins sat down in her office and became sick. After consulting a nearby doctor, Rashidi called an ambulance for Watkins, who then started to feel tingling in her arm.
"She was alert," Rashidi said, adding Watkins was able to tell Rashidi where her car was parked and which gym locker her purse was in.
Watkins then asked for someone to call her husband, Kristopher Watkins, who was in Italy on military assignment. Watkins was taken to Catawba Valley Medical Center, where it was discovered she had a brain aneurysm. After a brain scan, doctors knew Watkins needed to receive treatment at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center. Rashidi said as Watkins was being airlifted to Winston-Salem, she had a second brain aneurysm. This time, the attack put Watkins in a coma.
Kristopher then had to make the decision about five days later to remove life support from his bride, Rashidi explained as she held back her tears. Watkins died June 10 and was buried in her wedding dress.
Now, Watkins' daughter, Kara Poteet, is in the custody of her biological father, whom Watkins never married.
To help provide a future for Kara, Rashidi is working on the final touches for a Zumbathon fundraiser. The event will be 6-8 p.m. Aug. 11 at Abernethy Memorial United Methodist Church in Newton and is open to the public.
"Nina really liked Zumba," Rashidi said, adding Watkins recently danced with a group from the gym during a demonstration at Newton's Mayfest.
In addition to Zumba exercises, Rashidi said a raffle will be held, which will include items donated by various businesses and individuals in the community. The cost to participate in the marathon is $5 per person.
All of the money raised will go toward a trust fund for Kara, who will be able to access the money once she's 18 years old.
Watkins lived in Newton and was a 2001 graduate of Newton-Conover High School. She graduated in 2008 from Caldwell Community College and was working on her master's degree through Appalachian State University.
If anyone wishes to donate to the trust fund, but can't make it to the fundraiser, checks may be mailed to Kara Poteet Educational Fund, 1848 Twain St., Newton, NC 28658.