Annual Pap Corps Walkathon Draws Thousands Who Share Goal to Beat Cancer
More than 2,500 people turned out for the 15th Annual Pap Corps Walkathon, the signature event of the grassroots organization that raises money for cancer research at Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. Most of the attendees wore the event’s signature t-shirt with the simple message, “Come Together to Beat Cancer,” as they gathered and walked a 5K course around the Boca Raton campus of Florida Atlantic University on Saturday, March 14.
“We bring people together to get support and to get the word out about Sylvester and finding cures for cancer,” said Joyce Brett, seven-year Pap Corps member and co-chair of the Pap Walkathon with Beverly Berkowitz.
The attendees, just some of the 21,000 members of “The Pap Corps: Champions for Cancer Research,” heard words of thanks and details of the groundbreaking research taking place at Sylvester before they began their walk. Many spoke one-on-one with Sylvester physician-scientists who attended, including Brian Slomovitz, M.D., Director of the Gynecologic Oncology Division and leader of the Ovarian Cancer Early Detection Clinic at Sylvester, and Laura M. Freedman, M.D., associate professor of radiation oncology.
Ronan T. Swords, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor of medicine and holder of The Pap Corps Endowed Professorship in Leukemia, described some of his research, including leukemia vaccine studies and a clinical trial that has resulted in more than half of leukemia patients treated going into remission. He also talked about strategies to re-purpose commonly used drugs for leukemia and other cancers as well as techniques to grow leukemia cells in the laboratory, allowing researchers to test a variety of different drugs on the cells, to select the most active drugs for use in the clinic. He said Sylvester doctors “want to make sure our patients have options. As long as there are options there is hope, and hope is one of the most valuable gifts that we can give to our patients.”
A two-time cancer survivor, Brett said she knows the importance of research since she was saved both times by clinical trials. “We need to keep working to find a cure so no one has to deal with cancer, so it becomes a word they look up in the dictionary.”
The Pap Corps has been raising money for research at Sylvester for 60 years, giving more than $53 million to the cancer center, including its largest annual gift last year of $4.5 million. W. Jarrard Goodwin, M.D., Chief Medical Officer of Sylvester, and Mohammad Jahanzeb, M.D., Medical Director of Sylvester at Deerfield Beach, both thanked the members of the Pap Corps for their support and dedication, pointing out that this year, more than half of Sylvester’s patients will be seen in one of the six satellite locations. “We couldn’t be more thrilled to be here and see this wonderful turnout. Thank you,” said Goodwin.
Most of the 52 chapters making up the Pap Corps were represented at the Walkathon, including one of the newest, the Greater Broward chapter, led by Lori Margolis. She decided to start a chapter after seeing her mother become so active in the Pap. “We want to get the next generation involved and continue to raise money,” said Margolis. The Greater Broward chapter now has more than 200 members.
Pap Corps President JoAnne Goldberg thanked the crowd for their continued dedication.
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