Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Ocular Melanoma Fundraiser a Hit

The first time worked like a charm for the annual Lookin’ For a Cure Fun Walk and Golf Cart Run, which benefitted a rare, incurable eye cancer: Ocular Melanoma

Lauren Seaman, the fundraiser’s organizer, was overjoyed with the turnout for the event, held recently at MarGood Harbor Park in Goodland. She said she’d expected about 60 participants for what was the first-year event. Instead, approximately 150 people came to show support, and raise money and awareness about a disease that causes half of sufferers to develop fatal metastases. 

“The turnout is amazing,” said Seaman, a Goodland resident and an Ocular Melanoma survivor. “I’m humbled. I’m in awe.” 

She is the director of advocacy for the fundraiser’s beneficiary, A Cure in Sight. The North Carolina-based nonprofit is dedicated to heightening awareness of Ocular Melanoma, funding research and helping those with the disease find and pay for treatments. 

The event consisted of a one-mile walk and golf cart ride, as well as raffles, prizes, live music by Billy J. and the Big Easy, and food. People were also able to donate nonperishable food items to the Our Daily Bread Food Pantry, which had a table there, as did the Marco YMCA of South Collier, The Lighthouse for the Blind in Naples and Revival Yoga Fitness Studio. 

There was also a photo booth, along with a “Decorate Your Golf Cart” and eyepatch decorating contests, and games designed to show how the visually impaired see the world. 

Walkers were asked to don eyepatches to gain a sense of what it’s like to have impaired vision. 

Ocular Melanoma is so rare that only 2,500 people a year are diagnosed with it. The initial tumor is nearly always treatable, but the cancer metastasizes in about 50% of people who are diagnosed.

“First it metastasizes in the liver, then the lungs and then to the brain and stomach,” Seaman explained in a previous interview. “Once it metastasizes to the liver, there’s no cure. So we’re trying to raise awareness and to get people to get to their eyes dilated every year with a comprehensive eye exam because people don’t know about it.”

Mickey and Jackie Cortese of New Jersey, who are vacationing on Marco Island for two months, were among the walkers. Her Ocular Melanoma was diagnosed in April. She said radiation therapy has shrunk the tumor, but she has no vision in her left eye. They saw our story. 

“We read about it in the Coastal Breeze and we said, ‘We have to be here,’” said Mickey Cortese. 

“We wouldn’t miss it,” added his wife. “I read the article and showed it to my husband, and I said, ‘I think God’s telling me that I have to go.’ I got in touch with Lauren and here we are.”

Seaman attributed the greater than anticipated turnout to advance press coverage, singling out the Coastal Breeze’s story mentioned by the Cortese’s. “Because of that article, we had patients reach out to us,” she said, fighting back tears. Aside from that, “We have the best community on the planet.” 

One response to “Ocular Melanoma Fundraiser a Hit”

  1. Karen Vosmik says:

    It was a fun event and for such a worthy cause! One doesn’t appreciate their eyesight until it is taken away. Lauren keep up the good work!

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