Photos courtesy of Ryan G Photo
Fighter First Friday is the only time we have ever repeated a First Friday theme and charity, so it’s safe to say that Michelle DeJong and Moffitt Cancer Center hold a special place in our hearts. The week following a First Friday we always post a recap stating how great and successful the night was, and this is no exception. Clayton Gray Home was packed to the brim with many new faces who came out to support Michelle and Ryan, Miles For Moffitt and Team Fighter — Too Inspired by What’s Transpired. Run Tampa run club members, Leigh Spann and Adrienne Pederson from News Channel 8, and members of the Tampa community joined in celebrating our FIGHTER. Tampa photographer, Ryan G Photo, graciously captured the memorable moments of the night as guests mingled and enjoyed delicious food from Ulele. Of course, after seeing Michelle, the biggest hit of the night was Nick Peterson and the FIGHTER cocktail. Good food, drinks and company set the generous mood of the night with many signing up for the Miles For Moffitt race, making donations, and buying FIGHTER merchandise. Combined with Clayton Gray Home donating 20% of the sales for the night, we all had a chance to #BeTheGood.
photos courtesy of Ryan G Photo
Guests were greeted by the Miles For Moffitt crew when they entered the store. As they signed in, they learned about the Miles For Moffitt race, were able to join Team Fighter and the first 50 people received Easter eggs with secret discounts and prizes for the night. The Miles For Moffitt race takes place on May 9th on the campus of USF. There are several distances available so that all runners and walkers can participate, there is even a virtual option. One hundred percent of the registration fees and funds raised for Miles For Moffitt go back into cancer research. Perhaps the biggest highlight of this race is seeing current patients, survivors, doctors, nurses and staff, out on the course and seeing the vast amount of people that they have supporting them in their fight. No matter your pace or reason for being there, it is definitely a race that you simply don’t want to miss. The amazing after party and hearing the stories of what brought people to the race and to form teams, will leave you with a warm fuzzy feeling for days and weeks to come.
On March 14, 2014 a diagnosis was delivered that would forever change the lives of Ryan and Michelle DeJong and that of the Tampa community. Just months shy of their second wedding anniversary, the young couple learned that Michelle had an inoperable, stage IV brain tumor. Devastating news that would bring the strongest to their knees and throw in the towel. Not this couple, however, cancer messed with the wrong duo. Both were risk takers, go-getters, business owners (Michelle was named one of Tampa Bays Up and Comers under 30) and FIGHTERS. What cancer really didn’t bargain on was the amount of people that would join in to support and fight right along side with them. After traditional cancer fighting methods failed, Michelle decided that the fight wasn’t over, she and Ryan enrolled in clinical trials. This year, as March 14, 2015 rolled around, it was a day of celebration. One year of life that Michelle has won in her battle against brain cancer. It hasn’t been easy and it hasn’t come without cost, but Michelle’s fight is one that will pave the road to a cure for Glioblastoma. Michelle’s courageous, spirit and attitude has won her the title as the face of the Neurology Department for Moffitt. Last year, after the shock of the diagnosis wore off a bit, Michelle decided that she wanted to make her mark on the upcoming Miles For Moffitt race (and the world for that matter). She wanted to believe there was good in the world, or to #BeTheGood. Her husband, Ryan went to work. With the help of friends, family and the local run club, Run Tampa, they created a small army of FIGHTERs and formed the largest non-corporate team and crushed their initial fundraising goal of $10K. By race day, over 328 runners joined the team and more than $65K was raised. In honor of Michelle’s attitude and drive (and her secretly acquired tattoo) the team took on the title Team Fighter — Too Inspired By What’s Transpired. The FIGHTER logo is now easily recognized as a symbol of power and love that backs this local hero.
Please consider joining Team Fighter — Too Inspired by What’s Transpired and help Michelle to create an even bigger team and raise even more money for cancer research at Moffitt. Remember, run or walk, several distances, a kids fun run, and a virtual option make it a race for EVERYONE, everywhere. There is always the option of making a donation to the team or sponsoring a runner on the team. If you have already signed up for Miles For Moffitt, you can email the race director and be added to Team Fighter. Please check out the FIGHTER store for shirts, water bottles and more.
Save the date for our next First Friday, May 1, 2015.