Pilots with Royal Air Force to Run Florida Coast-to-Coast in Memory of Father

April 06, 2009

Funds Raised To Benefit Moffitt Cancer Center and Tampa General Hospital

Tampa, FL — Two Royal Air Force pilots are flying across the “pond” to run across the state — all in an effort to honor a father and raise money for cancer research.

Chris Heath and Ben Whittaker will run 130 miles over five days to raise money for three health care organizations: Moffitt Cancer Center and Tampa General Hospital, as well as Macmillan Cancer Support Charity in the United Kingdom. The five-marathon stint will start April 11 in Cocoa Beach and end at 11 a.m. April 15 at Tampa General Hospital. There the running duo will be met with a celebratory reception complete with speeches, food and lots of water.

This run is particularly important to Heath, who lost his father, Mike, to cancer.

“My father was beset by various cancers throughout his life; however, being such a stoic person, this was something he never let worry him,” Heath wrote in his Web blog. “It is for this reason we have decided to run across Florida in order to raise money for three charities, all specializing in cancer support.”

Heath and Whittaker ask that local communities help them raise funds by donating online at www.tgh.org/foundation_gift. Donations in Florida will be split between Moffitt and TGH. Money raised in the United Kingdom will benefit Macmillan.

Air Vice-Marshal Mike Heath (British Armed Forces Royal Air Force) died in November 2007 while on a four-year exchange with United States Central Command at MacDill Air Force Base. He was treated at Tampa General Hospital and Moffitt Cancer Center for pancreatic cancer.

“Pancreatic cancer is an aggressive disease. Over the course of the past 25 years, I have seen progress in the surgical outcomes. There now are a lot of people out five years or more,” says Dr. Alex Rosemurgy, a physician at TGH and a Moffitt affiliate. “By taking the team approach, we’ve been able to make a tremendous impact on patients with pancreatic cancer.”

To learn more and track the runners’ training, visit www.coast2coastfloridarun.com.

About H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute

Located in Tampa, Florida, Moffitt Cancer Center is the only Florida-based cancer center with the NCI designation as a Comprehensive Cancer Center for its excellence in research and contributions to clinical trials, prevention and cancer control. Moffitt currently has 15 affiliates in Florida, one in Georgia and two in Puerto Rico. Additionally, Moffitt is a member of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network, a prestigious alliance of the country’s leading cancer centers, and is listed in U.S. News & World Report as one of “America’s Best Hospitals” for cancer. Moffitt’s sole mission is to contribute to the prevention and cure of cancer.

About Tampa General Hospital                                                                                                                            Tampa General is a 958-bed acute care hospital on the west coast of Florida that serves as the region’s only center for level I trauma care, comprehensive burn care and adult solid organ transplants. It is the primary teaching hospital for the University of South Florida College of Medicine. TGH is also one of only eight comprehensive stroke centers in Florida and is a state-certified spinal cord and head injury rehabilitation center.