Southwest Florida charity runs raise nearly $50,000 for head and neck cancer patients

September 6, 2023

Partners in Care fundraiser debuts in Sarasota, returns to Cape Coral

From costumed kids portraying their favorite superheroes to work teams united for a common cause, more than 500 Southwest Florida runners and walkers helped generate close to $50,000 toward head and neck cancer education, screening and treatment at two recent charity events in Cape Coral and Sarasota.

The annual Partners in Care 5K Run and 2-Mile Walk debuted in Sarasota, in early April, with hometown runner Sadika Saigal taking top honors among female participants and Peter Liakakos of Venice the top male finisher among a field of 133.

In the Cape Coral event, a record-breaking 429 participants descended on Jaycee Park, with another 60 volunteers donating their time.

Hometown runner Nicole Walstein Keller was the top female finisher, with Blake Ware of Fort Myers pacing the male runners.

“Even as we’ve expanded our mission across the country, our hometown support continues to grow,” said Kathy Tolentino, director of the Fort Myers-based, nonprofit Partners in Care Foundation. “Both Cape Coral and Sarasota deserve a huge round of thanks for helping make the cancer journeys of multiple local families a bit more manageable.”

The charitable foundation hosts a nationwide series of spring charity runs, with additional events scheduled or recently completed in California, Colorado, North and South Carolina, West Virginia and Florida’s East Coast.

The race series began 11 years ago to bring awareness to head and neck cancers and to raise money for those unable to afford costly recovery therapies that often aren’t covered by insurance, or which require a very high copay.