Culture & Diversity
This is why I walk: The stories behind the walkers
Participating in fundraising walks is just another way our associates and advisors extend their support and passion for others across the country, while raising awareness for causes near and dear to their hearts.
Read inspiring stories from our very own to learn why they walk for various causes.
Making Strides Against Breast Cancer
Melissa Ramsey, marketing account executive, started volunteering with the American Cancer Society (ACS) in 2010 when her mother, Dorothy Campbell, was diagnosed with breast cancer at 47 years old.
“It was a scary experience,” said Melissa, “but she made it through chemotherapy and radiation.”
During her remission, the Campbell family formed a “Making Strides Against Breast Cancer” fundraising team, and participated in their first walk together in October 2011.
Two years later, Dorothy’s cancer resurfaced.
“At first, she was able to work full time while undergoing her trials,” said Melissa. “We even traveled together as a family.”
Then last year, a new tumor appeared in her liver, and after a long 10-month battle, she passed away from breast cancer.
"On October 27, 2018, I walked in memory of my mom,” said Melissa. “It’s because of our fundraising efforts that trials, chemotherapies and other resources exist, and are available to help women and men who suffer from breast cancer.”
Melissa makes it her mission to meet her personal and team fundraising goals each year, and serves on the Pinellas Walk planning committee, engaging with sponsors to raise funds for the cause.
"More than 252,700 people are diagnosed with breast cancer each year,” said Melissa. “Walking with the American Cancer Society raises awareness, and donating to the cause helps fund medical research and resources for those going through treatment."
Melissa and her husband recently adopted a dog – naming her “Hope,” in memory of her mother and the courage it takes to undergo breast cancer.
For more information about Making Strides Against Breast Cancer, click here.
Light The Night
Across the country, the “Light The Night” walk funds treatments for patients suffering from all forms of blood cancers through the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS).
"I walk in memory of my nephew, Jonathan," said Kristy Foley, managing director for fixed income trading. “Jonathan was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) at just 7 months old.”
Once diagnosed, Jonathan spent weeks in and out of the hospital undergoing chemotherapy, and the initial treatments appeared to beat the blood cancer.
“We made the best of times when Jonathan felt his best,” said Kristy. “When he wasn’t in the hospital, he loved playing with other kids. He would run until he couldn’t ‘go’ anymore – playing in the park, going to the beach, reading books – just a happy toddler having a good time.”
But in September 2016, 22 months after living in remission, Jonathan’s cancer returned. The doctors treated the 2-year-old’s case aggressively and made plans to perform a bone marrow transplant. However, fighting leukemia and enduring chemotherapy were too much for his little body, and Jonathan passed away one month later on November 17, 2016.
Kristy and her Raymond James teammates walked for loved ones lost to blood cancer, as well as survivors, on November 17, 2018 – exactly two years after Jonathan’s passing.
“Jonathan did amazing things in his two and a half years on this earth, touching so many lives in such a positive way,” Kristy remembers. “Jonathan was and continues to be an inspiration, helping raise thousands of dollars to help find a cure for leukemia.”
For more information about Light the Night, click here.
Walk to End Alzheimer’s
In 2018, approximately 5.7 million Americans of all ages are living with Alzheimer's dementia. This year in Honolulu, The Kikawa Team of Raymond James participated in Oahu’s “Walk to End Alzheimer’s” in support of family, friends, clients and their loved ones who suffer from the disease.
“Alzheimer’s is a serious mental condition that greatly affects both the individual and the supporting family members or caretakers,” said Ashley Caneso, client service associate, who got involved for the first time this year. “Our team was honored to participate in this year’s walk and raise awareness and help fund critical research.”
RJA advisors Paul Yamashita and Karen Yasukawa know the effects of Alzheimer’s all too well, as Paul serves with the Alzheimer’s Association Aloha Chapter, and Karen was a caretaker for family members who suffered through the disease.
“My in-laws – including my father-in law, mother-in-law and sister-in-law – all passed away from the effects of Alzheimer’s,” said Karen. “My husband and I cared for his parents, and it was challenging and a difficult time for all of us. It took many hands to help us through.”
Karen’s experience not only helped her understand friends and clients who go through the same challenges, but also has fueled her fight to raise awareness and funds – and encourage others in her branch to do the same.
“This particular disease is becoming more prevalent as we are living longer,” said Karen. “We need to pay attention; we need to do something about it.”
For more information on the Alzheimer’s Association, helpful resources, local chapters or walks and more, click here.
“My ‘Why’ is my son, Kyle,” said Shelly Church, an RJA advisor with Church & Box Planning Group of Raymond James. “Kyle was born in 1986 with a congenital heart defect, and when Kyle was alive, we walked together for eight years in our local Naples Heart Walk, under ‘Kyle’s Team.’”
Kyle’s commitment to raising money for the American Heart Association (AHA) started in 1998, when he served as the grand marshal for the local Heart Walk. He was the “top walker” for three years, and in his last walk in 2004, he was named the “top walker” in the nation for his level.
Kyle’s “Why” was his friend Kiante, whom he met at Camp Boggy Creek, sponsored by the American Heart Association. Click on the video below to hear Kyle’s inspiring walking testimony, told by his mother, Shelly.
“I continue to walk to carry on Kyle’s legacy,” said Shelly, who’s inspired others locally and across the home office in St. Pete to do the same. "Each year, more than 150 of our friends, family members and loved ones walk on 'Kyle’s Team' to help do the same.”
Over the last 20 years, "Kyle's Team" has raised more than $1 million for Kyle’s legacy for the American Heart Association, with a mission to end the number 1 killer of Americans: heart disease.
Raymond James Cares