Who is ready to run for a good cause? The fifth annual Next Step Is the Cure 5K will be on Saturday, October 7 at Alderman’s Ford Park in Plant City to help bring awareness and raise funds for research for ocular melanoma (OM). Ocular melanoma is a rare disease which affects six out of 1 million people each year. With no known cure, OM is referred to as an orphan disease; of the people diagnosed, 50 percent will develop metastasis that usually travels to the liver and the lungs.

Race directors Bernadette Boyle and Linda O’Brien have a vested interest in this disease. Bernadette lost her husband, Joe Boyle, to this cancer, 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 came about in 2017 when they learned that the Melanoma Research Foundation’s ‘Miles for Melanoma’ was not going to be held in the Tampa area. In November 2017, they held their first 5K at E.G. Simmons Park in Ruskin.

Bernadette and O’Brien are excited about the new location and are appreciative of the ongoing support of the community. Packet pickup will be at Park Square in FishHawk, and they hope to continue supporting Park Square and the surrounding businesses. They will also be reaching out to area schools to see if students are interested in volunteer hours to assist on the day of the event.

The hope for this year’s event is simple: to surpass the 2022 achievements. In 2022, there were over 300 people registered, 70-plus raffle items, 20-plus sponsors and $21,400 raised and donated to the Melanoma Research Foundation.

Representatives from the Melanoma Research Foundation will speak about ocular melanoma and the research that is happening because of events like this. Also invited are a prominent doctor from Moffitt, who will speak about research being done in ocular melanoma, and a doctor from Retina Associates of Florida. Their passion is exemplified through every detail because they know that every dollar raised goes directly to the Melanoma Research Foundation — Cure Ocular Melanoma.

Along with shirts, finisher medals and swag bags for all participants, there will be awards given to first, second, and third place in both the men’s and women’s groups. With 13 age groups and a fun run for the younger children, there is a place for everyone to participate.

Visit Facebook at www.facebook.com/cureocularmelanoma and Instagram page @yournextstepisthecure to follow its posts and updates.

If you are interested in learning more about sponsoring or donating, email yournextstepisthecure@aol.com. To register for the race/walk or donate, visit https://runsignup.com/race/fl/lithia/yournextstepisthecure or scan the QR code.

Previous articleEnergy-saving Tips From TECO
Next articleFacilitating Agricultural Resource Management Systems (FARMS) Your Questions Answered