The Miami Dolphins' commitment to help in the fight against cancer is well documented, thanks to the Dolphins Cancer Challenge. But the organization's support of those dealing with cancer extends beyond its fundraising efforts.
So it was that Dolphins players, cheerleaders and T.D. visited Alex's Place at Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center last week to distribute gifts and brighten the spirits of young cancer fighters and their families.
"They're amazing and awesome because they are taking time out of their day to bring a little joy to people like me," said Sandra Shinego, a patient at Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center. "They came in, gave us some goodies and cheered us up. It's an amazing outreach program for the Dolphins to do that and it's something that is really appreciated because there is not a lot to do. So it's great that they come in and they brighten your day. I'm a Dolphins fan; I was born here, from here and am always supporting the Dolphins."
The children and their families had a chance to interact with the players and cheerleaders, get autographs and take photos.
The experience was rewarding for the players as well as the patients.
"It was so crazy there were so many Dolphins fans in there and the patients were Dolphins fans too," cornerback Xavien Howard said. "My favorite moment was playing with the kids, taking pictures, and just laughing and giggling with the kids. You never know what people go through these days. There's a lot of stuff that goes on that we can't control, so using my platform and putting myself in that position to put a smile on people's faces, then seeing that smile and helping them to keep fighting, that's what it's all about. It's not really a feeling I can explain of how much it means to me.
"With the DCC, it's an event that goes on with the Dolphins, we've got the bike ride at the stadium and stuff like that, so there's a lot of things that we do and it's the Dolphins using their platform to be in people's lives, putting a smile on their face, and them just helping out in the community."
The Dolphins recently announced that the eighth edition of the Dolphins Cancer Challenge, also known as DCC VIII, raised $5.1 million for innovative cancer research at Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. That brought the event's eight-year fundraising total to more than $27.5 million.
The Miami Dolphins and Dolphins Cancer Challenge will support the NFL's Crucial Catch campaign designed to raise awareness of early detection and risk reduction of cancers at the home game against the Chicago Bears on Sunday. Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center will serve as the presenting sponsor of the Crucial Catch game and all fans who attend the game will receive Cancer Awareness arm sleeves upon entry to Hard Rock Stadium.
To celebrate the $5 million gift from DCC VIII, the Dolphins will hold a halftime presentation to honor the journey of eight cancer survivors treated at Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, each adorned with a color to represent the diversity of all cancer treatments offered at Sylvester. In addition, all 300 cancer survivors who participated in the DCC were invited to the game and will be celebrated on the field, as well as the doctors who receive critical funding from the money raised.
Registration is open for the DCC IX, scheduled for April 6, 2019. It will mark the ninth edition of the popular community event. The DCC donates 100 percent of participant-raised funds to innovative cancer research at Sylvester. The event is the NFL's single largest fundraiser.