Thousands Raise Money for Sylvester at 11th Annual Pap Corps Walkathon & Health Fair

More than 3,000 walkers converged on the campus of Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton on Saturday morning, April 2. They were there for the 11th Annual Pap Corps Walkathon & Health Fair, one of the signature events of the all-volunteer group that raises money for cancer research at Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, part of UHealth – University of Miami Health System.

This year, under a clear blue sky, thousands of walkers marched off, carrying signs from the 54 units sprinkled across South Florida. The Pap Corps: Champions for Cancer Research, named after Dr. George Papanicolaou, the founder of the Pap smear to detect cervical cancer, is made up of 21,000 volunteers, making it the largest grassroots organization in the United States. Each year, the Corps raises as much as $4 million to fund cancer research at Sylvester. This year’s walkathon raised more than $200,000.

During the opening ceremonies, Mohammad Jahanzeb, M.D., medical director of Sylvester at Deerfield Beach, thanked the crowd for their dedication, saying, “Your resources provide support for the work we do each day.”

Jim Sackett, news anchor from WPTV-TV, the NBC station in West Palm Beach, was a special guest at this year’s walkathon. He thanked the crowd for turning out and said it’s important for people to know that Sylvester is in Deerfield and able to serve patients in the Palm Beach area. WPTV provided a live report from the walkathon in the morning and a longer story in the evening newscast.

At the start of the race, Sebastian the Ibis, the energetic mascot of the University of Miami, ushered everyone on their way along the 5K (3.1 miles) course. Many posed for photos including the newest members to join the Corps ranks, “The Pap Kids for the Cure,” made up of children who are learning a key lesson. Naomi Prever, president of the Pap Corps, said they are the future of the group and “will continue to raise money for research that will ultimately save lives.”

Following the walk, participants took part in the health fair, getting free blood pressure, glucose, cholesterol and skin cancer screenings. Several Sylvester physicians and scientists provided information about their work and the latest technology available in a series of “Ask the Experts” lectures.

Jahanzeb, a medical oncologist, said the dedication of the Pap Corps members is “inspirational. Their work funds research at Sylvester that is making a difference and will continue to lead to new breakthroughs in cancer research.”

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