In South Florida, the sun always beats down, even during the winter months when the rest of the United States is just trying to keep warm. But no amount of rising temperature could keep the Miami Dolphins away from their goal of making an impact in the community, as they held their fourth annual celebrity golf tournament in the name of fighting cancer at JW Marriott Miami Turnberry on Friday.
"It's a beautiful day for golf but an even better day for cancer fighting," said Jennifer Jehn, senior vice president of the Miami Dolphins Foundation and executive director of the Dolphins Cancer Challenge. "One hundred percent of our funds goes directly to cancer research at Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer, and that includes all the golfer's participation out here today."
Since its inception in 2010, in honor of former Dolphins tight end Jim Mandich who died of cancer in 2011, the Dolphins Cancer Challenge has raised over $27.5 million for cancer research, and has touched the hearts of people all across the country, whether they're currently battling cancer, have a family member with cancer, or have already survived their bout with cancer.
Many of the latter, return to do their part to repay the effort put into helping them recover, both by participating on the golf course and through the main bike riding event which will be held on April 6 this year at Hard Rock Stadium.
"We've been proudly sponsoring the Dolphins Cancer Challenge for the last three years," said Alex Pascual, the commercial banking manager for BBVA Compass Banking. "I'm personally very honored to be involved in this with the Dolphins foundation and Sylvester. I'm a cancer survivor, I was diagnosed with phase 2 lymphoma in 2006, and when we did all our research and our due diligence to find out where would be the best place to get treated, everything pointed out to Sylvester."
Thanks to the golf tournament and the main event at the stadium, the Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center has been able to make breakthroughs in the field of treating this deadly disease. But one of the most important reasons the DCC has been able to bring in the crowds it has, is that it receives support from several celebrities across all South Florida sports, from football to hockey and beyond.
Some of them even have personal stories of their own.
"There is no question that I would come and help this event because I'm a cancer survivor." said former Dolphins wide receiver, Ring of Honor inductee and legend Mark Duper. "I had kidney cancer about seven years ago, everything is good, everything is fine. I just got one kidney, but I think my other kidney got bigger, so it all averages out."
Current athletes also came out in force to support the cause; Dolphins wide receiver Jakeem Grant, defensive tackle Vincent Taylor, and offensive tackle Sam Young - who despite being a pending free agent is on the DCC board - all made appearances.
Even Brian Flores, who was only announced as the team's new head coach this past Monday, found the time to show up and express his gratitude and support for the event, as his mother is currently battling breast cancer.
The rate of death from cancer has steadily declined over the past 25 years according to the American Cancer Society, but the reality is that any number more than zero is still too high. This is why the event is held every year, to speed up the process of eliminating cancer once and for all.
This story was written by Luis Sung. Follow him on Twitter: @LuisDSung
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