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Life Sciences : For Good

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For Good: Paddleboard event brings awareness to pediatric cancer

The fifth annual local "Paddle Against Cancer'' event takes place on May 23rd, with a new focus this year on pediatric cancer awareness. Proceeds of the event will go to the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute in Tampa.

Deanna Turner got involved with the event in response to her son's disease. Their family's experience with cancer started with warts and legions around her son Dominic’s face and ears, which she initially tried to treat with over-the-counter remedies. Soon her son’s peers took notice and he was bullied for his appearance. The seemingly innocent warts and legions that popped up in 2010 would lead to a devastating prognosis in 2015: a rare blood-related form of advanced melanoma.  

"Over the years I was looking on the Internet trying to find something to help my son, but now I’m at the end of the road with no options,'' Turner says. "The more money we make with events like this, the more chances we have to get funding to give my son a normal life.''

While Turner says Moffitt has done everything they can do for her son, only 4 percent of funds for cancer research go toward pediatric funding, which is why this year's event will focus on pediatric cancer awareness.

Cancer Survivor Gene Evans, who founded the Paddle Against Cancer event, says he started the event because he wanted to give back to Moffitt Cancer Center after all they had done for him.

"We are so fortunate to have Moffitt Cancer Center in our own backyard,'' Evans says. "It's one of the top cancer centers in the country. It's such a benefit to have them so close, for those to be treated in the morning, and come back in the afternoon to recover on their own couch or bed, we cannot take it for granted.''

Evans says it is time to shed light on pediatric cancer. He personally knows several children battling cancer and wants to raise funds to help them.

"So far this event has raised over a $100,000,'' he says. "I look forward to seeing how much we can raise this year.''

The event on May 23rd will include a 3- and 7- mile paddleboard along Treasure Island followed by a party with bands from noon to 4 p.m. For more information visit the event website.  

For Good: Donate online during Give Day Tampa Bay

Can Give Day Tampa Bay top $1 million in donations in 2015?

The inaugural Give Day Tampa Bay brought in just over $1 million for local nonprofits in 2014, and sponsors of the upcoming Give Day Tampa Bay on May 5, 2015, hope to see even more generosity spread throughout the local community during the second annual “24 hours of giving.”

Led by the Community Foundation of Tampa Bay and the Florida Next Foundation, Give Day Tampa Bay challenges locals to participate in a 24-hour online giving event. In 2014, more than 5,000 individuals donated to the inaugural Give Day Tampa Bay campaign to bring awareness to more than 350 nonprofits who do work in the local community. This year, more than 500 nonprofits are participating.

Debra Campbell, an educator and serial entrepreneur with a background in economic development, founded Tampa-based Forward Thinking Initiatives in 2004 with the aim of bridging education and workforce development. The nonprofit’s entrepreneurship programs for middle- and high-school teens aim to create a more competitive emerging workforce through a focus on creative thinking, innovation and entrepreneurship. 

One of the reasons Campbell chose to get involved with Give Day Tampa Bay is to help raise community awareness about local nonprofits. ““It’s a wonderful concept to promote all the good work that's going on in Tampa Bay,” she says. “I think the community is not aware of the vast number of services and programs available.”

There are dozens of nonprofits available to choose for a donation, including Big Cat Rescue, Tampa Bay Conservancy, Carrollwood Players Theatre, Lights On Tampa, Stageworks Theatre, the Straz Center, and All Children’s Hospital, to name a few. Find the complete list of 543 participating nonprofits at the Give Day Tampa Bay online donation site

Goals of the annual event include enlisting new donors and helping nonprofits learn new online giving and outreach skills. Funds raised can help nonprofits access resources and training that they can then use year-round to promote their work and engage their supporters.

“It’s always difficult for nonprofits to raise dollars, especially unrestricted dollars,” Campbell says. “This is an opportunity for each organization to benefit from a joint marketing program that is so well organized by Community Foundation of Tampa Bay and the Florida Next Foundation.”

Give Day Tampa Bay starts at midnight on May 4 and runs for 24 hours. Donations can be completed from any smartphone, tablet or computer using a credit or debit card, with a minimum donation is $25. 
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