In 2022, the June Rogers Foundation for Colon Cancer Research raised over $38,000, and in 2023 it raised over $55,000. The goal is to raise over $100,000 this year. 

The third annual Fight Like June Tennis Tournament will take place on Saturday and Sunday, April 20-21, at the River Hills Country Club in Valrico. About 100 tennis players will participate in the event.

All proceeds from the tournament will be directed to funds established to support the gastrointestinal oncology program at Moffitt Cancer Center, ‘Harnessing the Immune System in the Fight Against Colorectal Cancer,’ with oversight provided by Dr. Sarah Hoffe and Dr. Jennifer Permuth, as well as a new program called the June Rogers Compassionate Care Initiative.

The June Rogers Foundation for Colon Cancer Research (JRF) was started by seven of June Rogers’ closest friends in her honor. The JRF is partnering with Moffitt Cancer Center to provide funds for colon cancer research.

“June was larger than life,” said JRF President Elisa Buffington. “When you were with her, you felt like you could move mountains. She had a way of making everything seem possible, even the impossible. She inspired me to find my possibilities. She taught me that no excuse is greater than my ability. She was living proof of that. She battled an enemy and never once did she make excuses. She’s the reason we keep fighting. She has given us every possibility.”

The event has grown exponentially over the last three years. Foundation members are expecting over 1,000 attendees this year. In 2022, the JRF raised over $38,000, and in 2023 it raised over $55,000. The goal is to raise over $100,000 this year. 

This year, the festivities include a free outdoor concert, June’s Jam, starting at 6 p.m., and a Fight Like June Golf Tournament on Friday, April 19. Between 80-100 golfers are expected at the River Hills Country Club. There will be a live DJ starting at 4 p.m. on Saturday. The pro exhibition tennis match will take place on Sunday at 11 a.m. The headlining band, the Remissions, is led by Moffitt CEO Dr. Patrick Hwu.

Prominent silent auction items include a chef’s table for eight at Bonefish Grill, including all you can eat and drink of your choice, along with white-tablecloth service; a one-night stay at the Tarpon Lodge and a tarpon fishing day trip for four with famous local captain Willie Mills; a Total Wine private wine-tasting class for 20 and a bottle of vintage wine; and U.S. Open items, to name a few.

“I’m most looking forward to the growth of our event,” said Buffington. “It’s a much larger event than our first two years, but, inspired by June, we are taking the leap. No excuses. I can’t wait for June’s inspirational story to be told to those who have not heard it. Her story will bring out the warriors that will help us fight this battle. Bring out their possibilities. With the support of community, we can provide those currently battling colon cancer with compassionate care and resources. We hope to encourage more and more people to be proactive and get screened so we can win this fight against cancer head on.”

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Nick Nahas
Nick Nahas has written for the Osprey Observer since 2016. He has lived in the Valrico area since 2002 and has his bachelor’s degree in mass communications from the University of South Florida. He is dedicated to covering sports in Hillsborough County at every level.