WEEKI WACHEE — Between last year's Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer 3-Day walk and this year's 60-mile trek in Tampa, Mary Vuolo contracted the disease herself.
But that's not stopping Vuolo. The determined 58-year-old survivor is signed on for the event, which begins Friday and runs through Sunday, raising money for breast cancer research.
Since December, Vuolo has undergone a lumpectomy, radiation and a chemotherapy trial study at Morton Plant Mease hospital in Clearwater. Within a week after her treatment, she walked more than four hours on a Saturday.
Vuolo has joined nine other residents of the Glen Lakes community committed to the cause. She and her friends have gathered daughters, sisters, cousins and other relatives to join them on their stint, making up a contingent of 20.
Vuolo's daughter, Lisa Vuolo, 38, is coming with two friends from Michigan. Her niece, Diane Morris, 44, of Maryland, and a friend will arrive to add their paces.
Each participant must guarantee $2,200 in donations to participate, said Roseann Latoria, organizer of the Glen Lakes Boob-A-Doobs troupe. Last year, they raised $26,000. This year, they hope to top $60,000.
"It's amazing how generous people are for this nasty, nasty thing," said Latoria.
"We sent letters, also had fundraisers, a golf tournament, bingo," she said. With their manatee mascot, they staged a unique event, pulling on manatee costumes and "swam" according to participants' roll of the dice.
On Thursday, the kickoff evening, before leaving for Tampa, they will raffle a print of an oil painting of the 18th hole at the Glen Lakes golf course. The painting was created by resident Nick Calabrese, a retired illustrator for Reader's Digest, who still paints into his 80s. The print is valued at $500.
The Boob-A-Doobs are preparing by walking 5 miles every day beginning at 7 a.m. The three-day walk won't be the only challenge. They'll sleep in tents in Tampa.
The volunteers, who range in age from 35 to Latoria's 66, also include:
Ellen Frank, Erin Grady, Debbie Hartlerode, Jessie Helton, Linda Hermann, Michelle Kelly, Kelly Ketcho, Joyce MacMillan, Tammy Melendez, Julie Mettie, Linette Neumeyer, Sandy O'Dell, Patricia Rhodes, Patricia Saisi, Barbara Warren and Laura Webb.
Beth Gray can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.