By Jonesa Rodriguez - June 24, 2021
For many people, Father’s Day is a time to honor or celebrate the fathers in their lives who have played a role in shaping their future. For Tampa restaurant owner and Moffitt Cancer Center Foundation board member Richard Gonzmart, the holiday is a chance to not only honor fatherhood but to also raise awareness for cancer, especially those that impact men.
An avid runner, Gonzmart has combined his loved for running with his passion to find a cure for cancer. Nineteen years ago, he started Richard’s Run for Life, which consists of two events – including Richard’s Father’s Day Walk & Jog, in which he started eight years ago and is held annually on the Tampa Riverwalk near his restaurant Ulele.
Since then, this annual event has been a staple in the Tampa community, bringing out nearly 500 people on Father’s Day to raise not only awareness but also funds that support cancer research at Moffitt.
“Cancer touches all of our lives. It doesn't discriminate by age, race or gender,” said Gonzmart. “We're making a difference in the fight against cancer. When we come together, we give each other strength, and we give the researchers and the doctors at Moffitt hope that they, with our help, can find a cure.”
During an annual prostate specific antigen (PSA) screening in 2013, Gonzmart’s cancer was caught at an early stage, leading him to have a successful treatment. This led him to become a strong advocate for the cancer center and for PSA screening.
Through his annual events, he hopes that more men will be encouraged to get their annual screenings.
“I want men to understand the importance of getting a simple blood work test, a PSA,” he said, “Through early detection, you can overcome, just like I did. There’s nothing to fear.”
While a PSA screening was recommended in Gonzmart’s case, men should have a conversation with their doctor to find out what strategy is best for their individual situation.
“While prostate cancer screenings can help identify and treat the potentially life-threatening disease, some prostate cancers will stay dormant or could take decades to become a problem,” said Dr. Julio Pow-Sang, chair of Moffitt’s Genitourinary Department. “These cases do not need to be treated and men could have side effects from treatment such as incontinence and erectile dysfunction. There are also the psychological effects associated with a false positive test, as over half of men who undergo a biopsy for an elevated prostate-specific antigen (PSA) prove negative for cancer.”
This year, the annual event was held in person for the first time since COVID-19 and raised $110,000, bringing total funds raised over the last eight years to $710,000.
“It's wonderful to see family, friends, people that have been struggling, and the people that are remembering loved ones,” Gonzmart said. “This event is giving hope to our grandchildren that the cure for cancer will be found and hopefully in their lifetime.”
The Gonzmart Family Foundation also hosts Richard’s Run for Life, a 5k race held in Ybor City on the first Friday in November, where all funds raised again support research at Moffitt Cancer Center.