By Sarah Garcia
Bill Allen faced some enormous hurdles in his life. The first: serving in the Korean war, where he spent 31 grueling months as a prisoner of war. The second: cancer.
In July 2014, Allen was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia, or AML. He began treatment at Moffitt Cancer Center, where he was enrolled in a clinical trial. Although the prognosis was not good, his granddaughter Amanda Allen says he stayed positive until the very end, that December.
“My Papa — my hero — was laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetery,” she said. “He is why I’m giving back through Miles for Moffitt.”
Amanda calls her papa a true American hero. He authored the book “My Old Box of Memories,” in which he details his time spent as a prisoner of war. All proceeds from the book have been used to give back to the community, including through scholarships and donations to causes providing support for veterans.
Allen also helped to establish and was actively involved in the “Out Reach” program at the James A. Haley Veterans’ Hospital, which supports and educates the brave men and women coping with lifelong effects of post-traumatic stress disorder.
Enrolling in the clinical trial at Moffitt, Amanda says, was just another way for her papa to give to others until the very end.
“Although he knew the clinical trial would not save his life, he agreed to participate in the hopes that he could help others in their fight against cancer,” she said. “Moffitt gave me six extra months with my hero, and gave my hero yet another opportunity to selflessly help others.”
On Saturday, Nov. 23, Amanda Allen will be participating in the 14th annual Miles for Moffitt event. She and her team, Papa: Our Hero, run in remembrance of a man they say endured so much, but never stopped giving to others.