To accelerate research at Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, the nonprofit group Castaways Against Cancer completed their 23rd annual kayak paddle on June 17 in Key West. The tour kicked off on June 11 with an early-morning ceremony on Key Biscayne. This year’s theme, Carry On, reflects the group’s perseverance in raising funds for cancer research and marks the beginning of a five-year partnership to raise $1.5 million for research at Sylvester, South Florida’s only NCI-designated cancer center.
“This year, all funds will benefit Sylvester’s work in cancer epigenetics, which helps us understand the interaction between behavior and the environment and how this leads to cancer development,” said Namrata Chandhok, M.D., a hematologic oncologist at Sylvester and assistant professor of medicine at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, who spoke at the kick-off and whose research has benefited from the Castaways efforts.
The Castaways began in 2000 with a small group of kayakers paddling 160 miles from Miami to Key West in honor of founder Steve O’Brien’s mother, who passed away from cancer. Since then, the group has grown into a formidable fundraising organization that is helping Sylvester move the needle toward better cancer treatments and improved outcomes for patients.