By Jonesa Rodriguez - March 28, 2022
When it comes to health care disparities and Moffitt Cancer Center, Victor Young and Jonathan Graham have a few things in common. They have a passion for Moffitt and are eager to close the gap on cancers that disproportionately impact the Black/African American community.
Both men are no strangers to the cancer center. With Young being the vice chair of the Moffitt Medical Group Board of Directors, and Graham being one of the leading construction contractors on Moffitt’s McKinley Hospital project, it was only right that they joined forces to organize the Helicopters and High Rollers poker tournament, where they raised $100,000 to benefit the George Edgecomb Society.
The invitation-only event was a brainchild for Young, who was motivated to spread the word and introduce his fellow business friends to the society, while also creating a fun experience for the group.
“The motivation of the event was to make sure that the George Edgecomb Society continues to be relevant within Moffitt’s Foundation,” said Young. “There are a lot of fluid individuals in this town who should support the society. I wanted to make sure I was a conduit, connecting them to the organization, so they can see the value and put in their time, treasure and talent behind it.”
After presenting his idea to Lorrin Rucker, a member of Moffitt’s Foundation, Young was connected with Graham. From there, it was a collaborative effort, with all hands on deck to raise money for innovative cancer research.
“I always want to do something that helps Moffitt Cancer Center because I realize how special their work is, and so when the idea was presented to me by Victor, I was all in,” said Graham. “The motivation is that when we do things for Moffitt, it is helping hundreds of people.”
The tournament featured 18 players, raising $100,000 that was donated to the society. Young and Graham are planning to host the event again next year, and they expect more participants will be knocking the doors down to be involved.
Dr. B. Lee Green, senior member in Moffitt’s Health Outcomes and Behavior Department, and Moffitt Institute Board of Directors and George Edgecomb Society Chair Valerie Goddard accepted the check on behalf of Moffitt and the society.
“It is truly an incredible feeling when our board members and community partners not only share the same vision as the cancer center, but the same passion as well,” Green said. “Funds raised from the event will have a tremendous impact on our research, which will produce better outcomes for all communities who are affected by cancer.”
As an African American man, Young says he will continue to be an active player in funding and supporting the George Edgecomb Society, as he believes the work the researchers at Moffitt are doing on cancers that affect the Black/African American community is very important.
“We are so grateful for the dedication and continuous support we receive from Victor and Jonathan,” Goddard said. “Addressing cancer disparities is a team effort and I am honored to say we have great support from Moffitt team members and Leadership.”
Goddard says she looks forward to expanding the society's corporate and community partnerships, to support their research grant awards.
Data suggest that Blacks and African Americans have higher rates and deaths from many of the most common cancers. In 2017, the George Edgecomb Society was launched to address this issue – allowing donors to support work that will eliminate cancer health disparities by ensuring equitable health outcomes among Blacks and African Americans.