Children of cancer victims ‘cast away’ worries for a day

Buccaneer Louis Murphy, Jr., right, and his 1st Downs 4 Life organization treated 20 kids with loved ones battling breast cancer to a day of fishing.


By Allen A. Buchanan, Staff Writer

MADEIRA BEACH –  1st Downs 4 Life hosted its first Cast Away Deep Sea Fishing event for 20 children of parents currently battling breast cancer and receiving treatment from the Moffitt Cancer Center. The event, presented by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Glazer family, got under way early Saturday morning at the Hubbard’s Marina on board the Friendly Fisherman.

“Approximately 30 to 35 people came out with us this morning,” said NFL veteran and St. Pete native Louis Murphy, Jr.

At one of the most difficult junctures of their lives, Tampa Bay area youth ages 8 to 18 got an opportunity to “cast away” from the realities they face with their loved one who is impacted by breast cancer.

The kids, parents and supporters battled choppy seas most of the morning but with rewarding results.

“We must have caught about 100 fish,” said Murphy, Jr.

This trip is especially special to Murphy, Jr. because his mother passed away Valentine’s Day 2008 from the devastating disease.

“Sometimes the family may be forgotten about because the patient is dealing with the breast cancer itself, but the family needs support as well, especially the children,” said Michael Shorter, executive director of 1st Downs 4 Life, adding that it’s a tough time for all involved.

Sylvonia Tootie Williams-Clacken is a Moffitt Center patient with triple negative breast cancer. She decided to cast her worries aside and spend the day with her children on the fishing trip.

“When you have cancer, you just sit at home and do nothing all day,” she said. “I feel like this is an opportunity to get with my kids and go out and do something that would be nice for all of us.”

Williams-Clacken said she and the children “had a blast,” and what she enjoyed most was “watching my kids suffer trying to fish.”

(Kneeling) Cody & Briana Parker (Standing) Austin, Allie Parker, Louis Murphy, Jr., and Ed Parker

(Kneeling) Cody & Briana Parker
(Standing) Austin, Allie Parker, Louis Murphy, Jr., and Ed Parker

Ed Parker came along on the fishing trip with his three sons and two daughters: Cody, Austin, Hunter, Brianna and Allie. This quintet was responsible for catching more than 40 fish. Cody got an award for catching the most fish with a total of 19. His brother Austin caught 12 and Hunter caught seven.

“I caught the last one and it was the smallest one,” said their father, with an outdone look on his face.

Along with Cody, another young man named Jared received a certificate for catching the biggest fish and Heaven Clacken received one for having the most fun on the trip. The trio also received individual fishing supply pouches along with new fishing rods.

Madeira Beach Mayor Travis Palladeno was on hand to welcome all the participants and sponsoring representatives from the Buccaneers, the Glazers and the Moffitt Foundation. The mayor also helped clean and bag the freshly caught fish for participants to take home.

“Guys, this pier is where it happens right here in the Gulf of Mexico,” said Palladeno.

All participants received a fishing rod and a shoulder bag.

About 1st Downs 4 Life

1st Downs 4 Life was founded by Louis Murphy, Jr., in St. Petersburg. His mother fearlessly battled Metastatic Breast Cancer, passing away in 2008. She worked with youth throughout her career, demonstrating the importance of giving back to the community. Honoring his mother’s legacy, Murphy Jr. was inspired to give back to the community his mother dedicated her life to. Combining both his knowledge of sports and his passion for helping others, 1st Downs 4 Life was established in 2008.

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