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Paddle Against Cancer 2012

Video: Paddle Against Cacner

Created by Stage 4 kidney cancer survivor Gene Evans to promote the benefits of a healthy and active lifestyle, the second annual 'Paddle Against Cancer' will bring together more than 50 local stand-up paddleboarders to support Moffitt Cancer Center on Saturday, May 26.

Evans, a senior vice president at Clearwater-based USAmeriBank, was inspired to create the paddleboarding event by his desire to give back to Moffitt and offer support for other cancer survivors. The first Paddle Against Cancer raised $17,000 for Moffitt, a great success for an event that had an initial fundraising goal of $2,000.

Free and open to the public, the three-mile and the seven-mile paddle event will begin at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday, May 26. The paddle will be followed by a poolside celebration from noon to 4 p.m. at The Club at Treasure Island, at 400 Treasure Island Causeway in Treasure Island.

Evans was diagnosed with Stage 4 kidney cancer in May 2009, and since then has recovered from four surgeries - including one to remove a tumor on his spine and another to remove one of his kidneys.

In Stage 4 kidney cancer, the cancer spreads outside the kidneys to multiple lymph nodes or distant parts of the body, such as the bones, brain, or lungs. Statistical figures show that the five-year survival rate for Stage 4 kidney cancer is only 8 percent. Evans, however, is a three-year survivor and attributes his successful fight against cancer to his positive attitude and active lifestyle. 

"My doctors always told me that the stronger I am, the better chance I have of fighting off diseases," said Gene, 51, who played basketball at East Carolina University and then spent a number of years playing high-level beach volleyball. "I paddleboard three or four times per week now, and try to exercise every day. With all the scar tissue, it feels better to move around, and I believe my active lifestyle has helped me mentally, too."

"Gene recovered very quickly, especially for having two surgeries six weeks apart," said Frank Vrionis, M.D., M.P.H., Ph.D., a neurosurgeon at Moffitt who removed the tumor from Evans' spine. "We pushed him to gradually return to his active lifestyle, which became a vital factor in his speedy recovery."

The paddleboarders in the event will be making donations to Moffitt, and for others who would like to make a contribution, visit and click on "Make a Donation Now." Select "Gifts in Honor" and specify Gene Evans/Paddle Against Cancer. For more information about the event, call 727-288-7390.

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