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Plant City Courier

Rock Hall of Fame inductee headlines cancer center fundraiser

By LINDA CHION KENNEY
Special Correspondent

Published:   |   Updated: November 29, 2013 at 09:10 AM

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PLANT CITY Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee Marty Balin, founding member and lead vocalist of Jefferson Airplane and hit songwriter of Jefferson Starship, headlines a Dec. 1 fundraiser for the Moffitt Cancer Center.

Balin will appear at Uncork for a Cure, a wine-tasting event at Keel and Curley Winery in Plant City.

The fundraiser is under the auspices of Prelude to a Cure, a not-for-profit group formed by thoracic surgeon Dr. Larry Robinson and Dr. Scott Antonia, the center's department chair for thoracic oncology. The group holds two fundraisers a year to raise seed money for new ideas in lung cancer research.

“Some of these young investigators have innovative ideas and they need funds to get the data together to apply for larger federal grants,” said Christie Pratt, secretary to the board at Prelude for a Cure. “It's our way to fund some very novel ideas and hopefully make some changes and progress in the field of lung cancer research.”

The hope also is to raise awareness about lung cancer, which is represented by a white ribbon. According to Pratt, about 11,000 patients a year are seen at the Moffitt thoracic clinic for lung cancer, mesothelioma and other cancers of the thorax.

“Fifteen percent reach the five-year [cancer-free] mark,” she added. “What's so important to get across is that lung cancer is the No. 1 cancer killer. Most people don't know it actually will claim the lives of more people than breast, colon and prostate cancer combined.”

The aim also is to address the widely held belief that lung cancer is a disease that strikes smokers alone.

“About 10 to 15 percent of our current lung cancer cases are non-smokers, lifetime non-smokers, and we're seeing an increase in that number in women,” Pratt said. “Some of our patients quit smoking 20 years ago. So that's the other part of the work that we do. We want to fight that stigma attached to lung cancer.”

The fundraiser is scheduled to run from 12:30 to 3:30 p.m. Dec. 1 at the winery, 5210 W. Thonotosassa Road. Tickets cost $25, which allows the purchaser to sample 11 Keel and Curley wines and take home a keepsake glass. Appetizers and desserts will be provided.

“Marty Balin will play the entire time,” Pratt said. “One of our committee members, who has been with us since we started Prelude to a Cure, knew Marty from working with him on a project. When we were talking about entertainment for the event he asked if we would like him to contact Marty and we said, without hesitation, 'Absolutely.' ”

Drawings, door prizes and a silent auction also will help raise seed money for research. Robinson is scheduled to speak followed by a speaker slated to give the patient's perspective. The event will feature as well 15 white, stained-glass angels, crafted by Tommy Melvin, who had surgery performed by Robinson.

To purchase tickets, call (813) 435-0668 or go to www.preludetoacure.com. Late-deciders can buy tickets at the door.

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