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.  

Read more articles by Kimberly Patterson.

Kimberly Patterson is a news editor for 83 Degrees Media in the Tampa Bay region of Florida.
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