What’s raised in Gainesville stays in Gainesville


give-localThey share a first name, a passion for cycling and a commitment to helping others. Known collectively as the two Barbs, Barb Thomas and Barb Wills share one other thing, too: a connection to breast cancer. Thomas is a survivor, and Wills lost her mother to the disease when she was 7.

So when the pair met, perhaps it was inevitable they would organize a charity bike ride to raise money for breast cancer. Another inevitability? The Barbs knew the money they raised would benefit breast cancer research at the UF Shands Cancer Center.

“Sometimes you write a big check and have no idea how the money will be spent,” Thomas said. “People love knowing it is local research and all the money stays local.”

As part of the UF Shands Cancer Center’s second Pink Pumpkin Fest, Wills and Thomas organized the first Pink Pumpkin Pedal-Off, a charity bike ride that drew in 160 cyclists and raised an estimated $10,000 for triple negative breast cancer research at UF.

Helping us help our patients

• The Climb for Cancer Foundation: Has raised more than $1 million for

UF&Shands cancer programs and services

• Stop! Children’s Cancer: More than $3.7 million raised for childhood cancer research at UF

• Hold’em for Hope: $18,000 raised so far this year for the UF Proton Therapy Institute

• Chomp Cancer 5K Run/Walk: Raised $8,000 for the UF Shands Cancer Center

“Part of what drew me to (wanting to organize the event) in the first place was finding out this research is being done literally down the street,” Wills said. “Triple negative breast cancer very often strikes premenopausal women. That often means young children are left behind. That’s what happened to me. If this helps keep children from losing their mothers (that is my goal).”

Other organizations have bought into the “give local” concept, too.

The Gainesville Women’s Golf Association previously donated proceeds from its annual charity golf tournament to the Susan G. Komen Foundation, but they were never sure where the money went. This year, the association chose to give the $9,000 it raised to the UF Shands Cancer Center for women’s cancer research.

“Several of the women of the golf club have or had cancer and went to Shands for treatment,” said Cindy Flowers, chair of the “Tee-up for a Cure” tournament. “They were passionate about keeping the money at Shands.”

Panera Bread sold ribbon-shaped bagels in October, raising $4,800 — 100 percent of which was donated to the UF Shands Cancer Center. The company wanted to directly benefit the local community, said Megan Sones, Panera Bread’s marketing coordinator.

“Gainesville is really supportive of us, so we wanted to make sure to giveback, and Shands does such amazing work,” Sones said.

The Barbs plan to continue the Pink Pumpkin Pedal-Off and hope to eventually raise $1 million for research at the UF Shands Cancer Center.

“It is an inspiring thing to see the community work together with UF to do something truly amazing,” Wills said. “And I think people want to be part of that.” — April Frawley Birdwell and Mina Radman


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Winter 2013

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