“Like Talking to an Angel”

Team 211 poses for a picture at the start of the Tampa Bay 3-Day

Jane stopped to talk to me on the way to the opening of Day 2 on the Susan G. Komen 3-Day® this morning in Tampa Bay. She was part of a team of women bonded together by breast cancer survivors, friends, and one surgeon, all walking 60 miles to raise money for breast cancer research. I wanted to know more about her team and its leader, Dr. Sylvia Campbell.

Members of Team 211 attend the Opening Ceremony for the 2013 Tampa Bay 3-Day

“You know,” said Jane, “when I entered Sylvia’s office, there were pictures on the walls of breast cancer survivors, and Sylvia made it clear that she was there to give us hope. The way she talked to me…It was like talking with an angel.” I truly believed Jane as we stood there. I had worked around surgeons and doctors for many years, and my interaction with Dr. Sylvia Campbell (who prefers her patients call her ‘Sylvia’) was nothing less than extraordinary. Sylvia was dressed in a green imprinted t-shirt, decked out with the same pink accents that her teammates wore. They were all together, stage right, as the sun rose on the Tampa Bay 3-Day and its Opening Ceremony. I walked with the excited group of women (and one great guy!) as they launched themselves onto the streets of the greater Tampa Bay area on a three-day journey that would test anyone’s physical endurance.

Sylvia, however, was not surrounded by her current patients, past patients, and collected friends. She was surrounded only by friends.

Dr. Sylvia Campbell, or just “Sylvia,” is flanked by friends and teammates on the Komen 3-Day in Tampa Bay

“These wonderful people have all become so dear to me,” she smiles, as she points them out. Beverly, Jane, Sandy, Rosie, Paula, Cathy, Angie, Marvin, Bella, Marylynn, Sonja, Lauren, Janet…she names them off. She knows each one, and I start to ask about who has survived cancer, but then I realize that it doesn’t really matter. They all look wonderfully happy and that’s all that matters on such an exquisite morning among friends. “We’re Team 211!” She has to almost yell over the blaring music that pumps up the walkers continually. “Two Steps. One Goal. One Lifetime. 2-1-1. We started in 2006, and it was a way to tell people that I supported them.  I support YOU!” she exclaimed as a teammate puts an arm around her.

Dr. Sylvia Campbell, a surgeon in Tampa, leads Team 211 in the fight again breast cancer

Over the next two days, I see them on the route and at the rest stops. I see them laughing together in their camp and then back on the route. All I can think about when I see them is that there is a tremendous amount of hope and happiness in the group, which has been started by Sylvia. All I can think about when I see them is how lucky they are to have her as a physician and a friend.

Team 211 hits the road for 60 miles of walking in the Tampa Bay 3-Day

Team 211 moves over one of many bridges on the Tampa Bay 3-Day

Team 211 starts the route on Day 2 of the Tampa Bay 3-Day

Team 211 starts the route on Day 2 of the Tampa Bay 3-Day

Top Fundraisers for Tampa Bay 3-Day

The Susan G. Komen 3-Day® opened up in great weather this morning at Sand Key Park where walkers were treated to beautiful views of Clearwater, Largo and Indian Shores. After 19.5 miles, everyone was ready for a break, and dinner and a camp show seemed to be just the thing. The top fundraisers for the Tampa Bay 3-Day were announced this evening, and some congratulations are in order for their hard work.

Top Crew Fundraiser: Sandra Alekson, $4,600; Lunch Crew

Sandra Akeson receives the award for Top Crew Fundraiser

Sandra Alekson receives the award for Top Crew Fundraiser

Top Fundraising Team: Team ‘Thanks for the Mammories,’ $103,949; Sheila Porter (Captain)

Carol Lynch accepts the award for her team as Sheila Porter was not present

Top Individual Fundraiser: Rob Imparato, $10,750; (from Team ‘HOORAY BOOBS!’)

Rob Imparato accepts the award for Top Individual Fundraiser at the 2013 Tampa Bay 3-Day

Everyone should be proud of their tremendous efforts in fundraising. Good luck out there on Day 2 in Tampa Bay!

The C-Side Sisters + Mister

Sandy, Tammy, and Cara make up three generations participating this year in Tampa Bay

“When my mom started walking in 2005 in Tampa Bay, she really didn’t have a personal connection to breast cancer,” mentioned Cara, who was gearing up to serve lunches to the hundreds of Susan G. Komen 3-Day® participants this weekend in Tampa Bay. “My mom, Tammy, heard a radio spot that was announcing that the Komen 3-Day was coming to Tampa, and she just decided to do it.”

The C-Side Sisters + Mister gather at lunch for a team photo

Tammy then got her mother, Sandy, to walk with her team “The C-Side Sisters” in 2007. “I loved it, but 60 miles is a long way!” laughed Sandy. “Most people don’t realize that lunch and the Pit Stops are a lot of work. We love to do it, but we’re glad to have some men join us this year.” She points to Sergio, her granddaughter Cara’s boyfriend and the one of a few ‘misters,’ who have been helping out for the last three years. This year Cara and Sergio are co-captains of the 27-person team that serves lunches, coordinates medical care, and helps walkers finish their day strong.  One way to perk up the walkers who are traveling 20 miles a day is to dress their lunch spot (and themselves!) in a stylish theme.

The C-Side Sisters seem to really enjoy their Mister (Sergio who is helping out on the Lunch Crew)

“We’ve been the ‘lunch ladies’ for awhile now, and the Tampa Bay 3-Day walkers have come to expect it,” explained Cara, “but we also change the theme on Day 2 of the route. We’re ‘tacky tourists’ on the second day.”

The C-Side Sisters + Misters have been busy over the years. Since 2005, they have raised over $365,000 for breast cancer research and funds for local help to fund mammograms and other prevention and screening. Sandy explained that one of the big fundraisers for the last few years has been their golf tournament ‘Golf For a Cure.’ “It’s been a lot of fun. We’ve had great sponsors and people pay a certain amount to golf certain holes. We had a hole-in-one winner two weeks ago and the person won a 2014 Ford Escape!” The team laughed thinking that the dealership thought that no one would actually make a hole-in-one.

The Lunch Crew gathers after setting up for the hundreds of 3-Day participants ready to walk through in Tampa Bay

This is a great team with three generations of participants this week. Don’t forget to thank your lunch crew this weekend and all the crews that make the 3-Day® possible!

Five members of Team “C-Side Sisters” roll through Pit Stop 1 at Tampa Bay 3-Day