With the Wiregrass Ranch Relay for Life coming up on Friday, May 11 (at Wiregrass Ranch High), and with my father, Jack Nager, being a 45-year cancer survivor who never had a recurrence at a time when the “cure” rate for all cancers was about as high as the cure rates for lung and pancreatic cancer are today, cancer is one disease that pulls at my heart every day.

So, to be able to help promote not only the Wesley Chapel (which was held the weekend we went to press; see page 8) and Wiregrass Ranch Relay events, but also the New Tampa Relay for Life on May 18 — and literally anyone or any other organization trying to raise money and awareness of any major illness or legitimate community cause — is not only my pleasure, it’s my honor and privilege.

And, speaking of the Relays for Life, I hope that anyone planning to participate in either of those two great upcoming events will check out a song on Youtube.com, written and performed by my friend from junior high school, Carine Ulano, called “Ribbons of Hope,” which Carine wrote for a friend of hers who is a breast cancer survivor.

Everyone who sends us an email saying they “liked” the song (which I hope will one day become the theme song for ALL Relay for Life/ cancer fund-raising events) to our new editorial email address (EditorialDept@NT NeighborhoodNews.com) or on our website (NTNeighborhoodNews.com) by Tuesday, May 8, will be placed in a random drawing to win a pair of tickets to see “Broadway Comes to Tampa” on Saturday, May 12, plus other restaurant/spa prizes!

See page 31 for details about this awesome upcoming show!

Good Luck, Recruits…& Brandon Allen!

I was driving down Bruce B. Downs (BBD) Blvd. the week before we went to press, when I saw a 25-foot-tall rock-climbing wall as the centerpiece of a great event being hosted by the U.S. Army Recruiting Office located in the same plaza as The Hungry Greek & Dickey’s BBQ restaurants located directly across BBD from the spectacular Florida Hospital Wesley Chapel (see our exclusive on page 1!).

There appeared to be as many as 100 newly signed local Army recruits at this definitely fun party, plus many members of their respective families, enjoying great grilled hamburgers and hot dogs, some flag football and of course, scaling the Army-caliber rock wall, which definitely appeared to be more challenging (because of the spread of the footholds) than any section of the rock-climbing areas at the New Tampa YMCA.

I was really impressed with one young recruit I called “Spider Woman” (photo), who went up the wall — barefoot, mind you — in just over 20 seconds, a hair behind the day’s top climber, who finished in 19 seconds. The young people I saw were already very fit, very competitive and most seemed very much ready for the start of basic training. They even all knew where they were going.

As I chatted with some of the recruits, one freshly crew-cutted young man said, “Mr. Nager, do you recognize me?” I didn’t, so I asked him his last name. This young former soccer and football player and Wharton High grad was Brandon Allen, one of my son Jake’s close friends from youth soccer. Thanks to already having two years of college credits, Brandon is on the fast track to becoming part of the U.S. Special Forces. Good luck, recruits. Come home safe and make us proud!

For more information about enlisting in the U.S. Army, call 994-8132 or stop in at 2653 BBD.

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