By Kim Polacek
A contingent of Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla pirates, along with animals and stilt walkers from Busch Gardens joined the crowd in the Capitol Courtyard Wednesday to welcome 41 cyclists who biked from Tampa to Tallahassee – 325 miles over four days – raising money for cancer research. The Cure on Wheels annual Capitol Ride, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary, kicked off Moffitt Day at the State Capitol. This annual day of advocacy highlights the cancer center’s impact here in Florida and beyond. Nearly 100 patients, caregivers and team members traveled to Tallahassee this year to share their Moffitt stories with Florida lawmakers.
“Moffitt Cancer Center was established by Florida statute and has relied on funding from the state since opening its doors in 1986,” said Dr. Jamie Wilson, Vice President of Government Relations at Moffitt. “It is why having this day each year is so important. We can put our legislators face-to-face with those impacted by cancer to hear how Moffitt has changed lives.”
Continued support from lawmakers will be crucial this session. Legislation has been introduced in both the state House and Senate that would increase Moffitt’s share of the state cigarette tax from 4% to 10% over the next four years. The increase would provide an estimated $22 million annually, which would be combined with private investment by Moffitt to pay for a new hospital, additional research space and an expansion campus in Pasco County.
“Many of our facilities are more than 30 years old. This additional funding would allow us to build and upgrade facilities to meet our growing patient population,” said Merritt Martin, director of Public Affairs at Moffitt. “We treated close to 70,000 patients last year and that number is expected to jump to 100,000 by 2026. We need to grow to continue to provide world-class cancer care and develop future cancer therapies.”
Moffitt has a long history of working with state legislators and will continue to work alongside policy makers throughout the legislative session to advocate for Florida’s cancer center. We invite all of our patients, partners and community supporters to join us in sharing their Moffitt story to help drive progress in cancer research, treatment and care.