USF team makes strides for breast cancer awareness

With temperatures in the low 60s, men and women shivered Saturday morning outside the St. Pete Times Forum adorned in pink bras. Others wore shirts that read “Real Men Wear Pink” or “Save the Ta-Tas.” Some brought pets dressed in pink or dyed their pets’ hair pink to add to the spirit of support.

Among the 12,000 supporters participating in the Put on Your Pink Bra: Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk was Team Regi-STARS, a USF team that raised more than $1,400 for the cause.

As of Sunday, the event raised $363,717.79 in total, according to its website.

The USF team, led by Carolyn Houston, Enrollment Management specialist at the Office of the Registrar, was comprised of faculty, students and staff – each who had been touched by cancer in some way.

“Most of us know someone who has been affected by breast cancer, and it’s important to show support for both survivors and those who have lost close ones to breast cancer,” Houston said. “(This was an) opportunity to form a collective effort at making a difference by raising money for research and as a means of support for those affected by breast cancer.”

Houston was accompanied by her husband Dwayne, and walked in remembrance of her mother and a very close friend who both lost battles with breast cancer. Participants began the five-kilometer walk led by Tampa Police Department escorts, walking through downtown Tampa and parts of Bayshore Boulevard. Some participants shared stories of survival and hope, while others scrambled to find teammates as the starting time for the walk approached. Groups lined the sidewalks holding signs of support for the walkers, some with messages of encouragement such as “Keep Fighting!” and others with more personal messages, such as one that read “Sad For My Mom.”

Kayla Davis, a junior majoring in sociology and a member of Regi-STARS, said she walked in honor of her mother’s close friend, a breast cancer survivor.

“(It was an opportunity to) show selflessness and to make a change in someone else’s life and maybe save a life by raising money for research,” she said.

Davis first heard about the walk when she saw a “Wall of Hope” at the Office of the Registrar marking the team’s progress.

This year, the team exceeded its fundraising goal of $500, raising over $1,400 in four weeks. A donation jar sat at the entrance of the Registrar’s office, and $400 was raised through dinner gift certificate raffles. A Pink Ribbon Dinner was also held to raise more funds.

Houston said the team plans to get more local businesses involved next year by incorporating a donor-matching program for businesses as well as continue raising money through fundraising events such as raffles.

“As you walk through life you realize it’s not about you, it’s about what you do to help others,” she said. “It’s not about us. (It’s about) collectively attempting to save one life, one person, by raising money for one research at a time. And that’s what life is about – making a difference.”