By Michelle Colesanti
Dani Gray’s mom was the type of lady that lit up a room, leaving an imprint on everyone she met. As a way to honor her mom who passed away from cancer when Gray was 22, she formed a team to participate in the annual Walk for Moffitt.
This year’s PNC Bank Miles for Moffitt at the University of South Florida will take place on Saturday, May 11. Miles for Moffitt supports Moffitt Cancer Center’s mission to cure and prevent cancer by increasing community awareness about the cancer center and raising money to fund its research.
Gray’s team, the Fire Breathing Rubber Ducky’s, is sponsored by O’Brien’s Irish Pub. Last year they were the most successful fundraising team at the walk raising $10,000. Their goal is to double that amount this year.
When first organizing the team last year, Gray approached Sean Rice of O’Brien’s about hosting a fundraiser. What she didn’t know was that Rice’s uncle was terminally ill with cancer and his business partner and beloved friend, Tony Martin, was about to be diagnosed with an inoperable tumor and would spend months at Moffitt getting chemo and radiation treatment. They all jumped on board to help and became part of the team. Rice was also recently recognized by Hillsborough County for his generous fundraising efforts on behalf of Hillsborough County Deputy Dan Whitt, a husband and father of four who is battling stomach cancer.
Their main event, the Ken-Ducky Derby, will be held on Saturday, May 4 at O’Brien’s Irish Pub, located at 701 W Lumsden Rd., in Brandon. Rubber duckies are currently on sale for $5 at O’Brien’s in Brandon and Plant City, O’Toole’s in Brandon and Circles in Apollo Beach. There will be adult races and a kid’s race with some great prizes for the winners. There will also be raffles and a silent auction at the event. They are still looking for sponsors and auction items.
Other upcoming team events leading up to the Walk include Gray throwing out the first pitch at the Rays game on Sunday, April 21 on behalf of Miles for Moffitt, and then on Sunday, April 28, a “Strike Cancer” Bowling Tournament at Oakfield Lanes from 2- 5 p.m. Doubles teams can register now at Oakfield for $25 a team.
There are currently 35 people on the team, but they are hoping to have about 100 walkers. The $35 registration fee goes towards their $20,000 goal. If you are interested, please visit www.duckcancer.com or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/OBriensFireBreathingRubberDuckies or email Gray at email@example.com.