The fifth annual 5K event to help bring awareness and raise funds for research for ocular melanoma is scheduled to take place on Saturday, October 1, at Park Square Plaza in Lithia.
Ocular melanoma (OM) is a rare disease which affects six out of one million people each year. Currently, with no known cure, OM is referred to as an orphan disease. Of the people diagnosed, 50 percent of them will develop metastasis, which usually travels to the liver and the lungs.
Bernadette Boyle and Linda O’Brien, the race directors for this event, have a vested interest in this disease. Bernadette lost her husband, Joe Boyle, in January 2016 and O’Brien is still fighting with yearly scans and eye exams; O’Brien remains NED—no evidence of disease. Their decision to organize a 5K started back in 2017 when they learned that the Melanoma Research Foundation’s ‘Miles for Melanoma’ was not going to be held in the Tampa area.
Up to this point, Bernadette and O’Brien created a ‘Florida CureOM’ team for the Miles for Melanoma event. Bernadette and O’Brien saw a need to continue with this mission: they wanted to raise funds for research and bring awareness to ocular melanoma. In November 2017, they held their first 5K at E.G. Simmons Park in Ruskin. They continued holding events, adding on more registrants and increasing the dollars raised each year.
Bernadette and O’Brien are extremely excited about returning to Park Square Plaza.
“Our change in location in 2021 brought growth in attendance and dollars raised and they are deeply appreciative of the support of the community and the local businesses,” said Bernadette. “The 5K event will begin and end at Park Square on October 1. Having our event at Park Square encourages community involvement and, like last year, they look forward to promoting the Park Square businesses, local family-run businesses and the surrounding businesses in the FishHawk area.”
Their hopes for this year’s event are simple: to surpass their 2021 achievements. In 2021, there were 250 participants, 70-plus raffle items, 20-plus sponsors and $21,000 raised and donated to the Melanoma Research Foundation.
Please visit their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/cureocularmelanoma to follow their posts and updates.
If you are interested in learning more about their event and/or sponsoring or donating, email email@example.com. For registration for the race/walk and to donate, visit https://runsignup.com/race/fl/lithia/yournextstepisthecure.