Three years ago, Trish Walton was asked by a friend on the American Cancer Society (ACS) “Relay for Life” of New Tampa committee to start a Relay team. So, she asked her friend, Ellen King, a resident of West Meadows, to help. They knew it was for a great cause, so they “winged it” that first year. This year, Ellen is the team captain of “Fun Friends Footin’ it for a Cure,” which consists of 28 members, all from New Tampa neighborhoods (including Tampa Palms, Hunter’s Green and even Meadow Pointe in Wesley Chapel).

Last year, the “Fun Friends” team raised $6,156 for the New Tampa Relay. So far this year, the team already has raised more than $2,200 and still had about a month, at our press time, to top last year’s fund-raising total. The team started working early (Halloween 2012) for this year’s Relay, which will be held beginning Friday, May 17, 6 p.m., around the running track at Freedom High in Tampa Palms.

The Friends already have held a block party with games, pizza and a costume contest, dinner parties, wine & cheese parties, garage sales, basket raffles and more, all to benefit the New Tampa Relay.

The “Friends” like to involve kids, to teach them the importance of giving. For example, Brianna Benito obtained permission from her school to have a “Purple Color Day” where the students could pay $1 to wear purple instead of their school uniform. Brianna has raised $82 so far.

Ellen and her son Timothy, Adriana Benito and her daughter Brianna, Allison Kaczmarek and other members of the team were waving signs and attracting customers to CherryBerry of New Tampa (photo) on March 27. General manager Kathy Montoya offered to donate a portion of the day’s proceeds to the Friends’ Relay efforts.

Over the last three years, the Friends have raised more than $13,000. This year, the goal is to raise $7,500!

“All of us have had someone close who has had cancer or know people who lost their battles,” Ellen says. “Some are mothers, close friends and survivors themselves.”

The Friends are just one of 47 teams and 539 participants already signed up and already have raised more than $32,000 for the ACS Relay For Life of New Tampa. For more info, contact ACS community representative Michelle Rossi at 319-591, ext. 5917. Or visit and type in zip code 33647.


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