By Jessica Watson

Four friends from the Brandon/Valrico area, calling themselves the Florida Ladies, have combined efforts to walk and run in races throughout the U.S. in support of good causes.

These four ladies — Kari Gomez, Stacy Butler, Melanie Langston and her daughter, Maddison Langston (13 years old) – are registered for Susan G. Komen 3-Day Race that will place in St. Petersburg, FL. from Friday, October 26 to Sunday, October 28, 2012.

“Since 2009, we’ve been doing one Susan G. Komen race in a different city each year,” said Melanie Langston.

The Florida Ladies have walked in Atlanta, Philadelphia, Dallas and Tampa so far.

They haven’t picked the site for next year’s race yet, “but usually by the end of mile one, we’ve decided where the next year’s race will be,” said Langston.

And their racing doesn’t end with the Susan G. Komen race. The Florida Ladies, all natives of the Valrico and Brandon area, have been participating in 5K’s, 10K’s and half-marathons for the last four years.

They’re not concerned with speed or times, Langston said.

“This is primarily a fun activity for us, and our goal is just to finish.”

The secondary benefits they achieve, though, are huge: weight loss, boosts in health, more energy, raising money for charities and bonding with their family.

Their children are able to participate with them in training and in the actual event, thanks to the children’s one-mile races that are held the weekend of the major races.

Langston’s recommendation for people wanting to find these benefits for themselves: Get support by enlisting a friend to join you in the pursuit.

When you come home after a long day and you just don’t feel like leaving the house, explained Langston, knowing a friend is coming over to walk with you can be just the push you need to get you in those sneakers and out the front door.

“A five mile walk by yourself is just plain boring,” she said, “but with a friend, you can chat about the day, laugh, and keep each other motivated. I couldn’t do it without my friends.”

If you’d like to sponsor this team, go to, and search “Florida Ladies.”


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Jessica is a freelance writer for the Osprey Observer and Christian Voice newspapers. She has a BA in Journalism from the University of West Florida and 7 years of experience writing for various publications. She’s the owner of Accuracy Editing, a 2-year-old company committed to helping small businesses and individuals improve their written communication.