In June of 2012, Bill Eshenbaugh turned 70.
The birthday proved to be a good look for him: he felt good mentally and physically through regular workouts and was just preparing for a 120-mile horse-back ride in Nevada. It was an adventure he had been anticipating. So, when he had his routine visit with his family physician, he was surprised when asked to receive immediate testing and scans. His prostate-specific antigen (PSA) levels were abnormally high.
Eshenbaugh, in a state of mild shock, agreed to do so after his ride in the next few weeks. His physician insisted it be immediate.
“He said something like ‘I want your tests this week’.” Eshenbaugh recalled.
After the scans, his physician’s concerns were shortly confirmed: Eshenbaugh had prostate cancer.
“I shared the news with my wife,” Eshenbaugh said. “I was scared for maybe the first time in my life. I pride myself as being ‘cowboy’ tough, so this was hard.”
Together, he and his wife, Lynda Keever, visited appropriate physicians for treatment options. As a successful commercial real estate broker and horse-back rider, Eshenbaugh did not want the public nor his competitors to know he had been diagnosed with prostate cancer. His eventual decision to pursue Cyberknife treatment was difficult, but by the following year, he was cancer-free.
It was not until 2017 that Eshenbaugh would encounter cancer in his life again. This time, however, it was Keever who was diagnosed.
The fortitude this Tampa Bay power couple displayed in enduring dual cancer journeys is just one of the reasons Eshenbaugh and Keever were chosen to be members of the inaugural Tampa Cattle Baron’s Ball Wall of Courage. ACS’ annual gala, a virtual event set for Oct. 2, has chosen this inspiring couple and eight others for this inaugural salute to Tampa Bay residents who have endured a cancer journey and continued to contribute to the community.
Keever proved valiant in her approach.
“I wasn’t too worried when my primary care doctor, Brantley McNeel scheduled the procedure [for colonoscopy]. No history of colon cancer in my family and I had just had the procedure two years before.” said Keever, the former Florida Trend publisher and a member of the Florida Women's Hall of Fame.
Yet sure enough, the colonoscopy results returned and Keever was informed that she had advanced, high-risk colorectal cancer. She received immediate surgery, with Keever’s surgeon assuring her “he got it all,” and Keever was overcome with relief at being cured. Eshenbaugh and her even went on a cruise.
But this relief was short-lived, as her oncologist later decided that further treatment and chemotherapy was necessary to ensure the cancer was fully eradicated.
“I was sick all the time, nauseous, [had] diarrhea, and [was] vomiting,” Keever said. “The smell of food made me even sicker… I lost 14 pounds in the first 10 days. I couldn’t even look at a food ad or restaurant ad on TV.”
Thankfully, she was not alone. Though their encounters with cancer were at separate times, Eshenbaugh and Keever were one another’s encouragement and caretakers. When Eshenbaugh fought cancer, Keever was there to care for him. Now, it was Eshenbaugh’s turn.
“My husband, Bill Eshenbaugh was my hero (still is for that matter).” Keever said.
Once Keever’s hair grew back after successful chemotherapy, in honor of her mom’s red hair, Keever got a short red wig herself. Together, Eshenbaugh and Keever went to a Florida State football game, seated in the President’s box. Keever had gained her lost weight back, and her red wig looked great and real.
No one would know that these two individuals were brave cancer survivors, besides each other.
To those over 50, Keever advised: “Don’t put this off, especially if you are over 50. The lifesaving thing to do is get tested and follow your doctors’ advice. I am alive today because I did.”
Likewise, Eshenbaugh said: “My message for men over 50 is to get the prostate checked, to have periodic follow-ups with blood work, and have a primary physician that watches and knows what to look for, and then have the courage to deal with the disease as soon as possible.”
The courage Eshenbaugh speaks of can be hard to find. After all, the fight against cancer is an arduous one. But for Keever and Eshenbaugh, they found this courage in each other.
The American Cancer Society welcomes Lynda Keever and Bill Eshenbaugh to its inaugural Cattle Barons Ball Wall of Courage.
Ken Park can hit the curveball.
The founder and CEO of Oktane Media has partnered with the American Cancer Society for two consecutive years to help stage its Tampa Cattle Baron’s Ball. In 2020, he crafted a plan to build on the success of the 2019 event.
But then came the curve ball: a global pandemic that suspended in-person events and left ACS with more questions than answers. Park didn’t flinch. He didn’t freeze. He sized up the pitch and knocked it out of the park -- pun intended.
Partnering with SignalWire and its CEO, Tony Minnesale II, Park not only found a captivating video collaboration platform to help ACS transition the Cattle Baron’s Ball to a virtual space, he created the Trailblazer Series -- a weekly series of mini virtual events designed to build excitement for the Oct. 2 grand finale.
“He’s the glue that held us together this entire time,” said comedian Tom Cotter, the emcee for the 2020 Cattle Baron’s Ball.
Of course, this wasn’t the first time Park hit a home run. When cancer threw him a curve ball, he knocked that out too. Park’s perseverance as a cancer survivor and his unyielding volunteer devotion to the American Cancer Society’s success has earned him a place on the Tampa Cattle Baron’s Ball Wall of Courage. ACS has chosen Park and nine others for this inaugural salute to Tampa Bay residents who have endured a cancer journey and continued to contribute to the community.
Of course, not many of the volunteers and event leaders who have worked so hard to make the Cattle Baron’s Ball a success may have known Park was a prostate cancer survivor. He concedes it’s not something he likes to talk about.
“I kind of handled it like I handle so many things in my life,” Park said. “I went straight ahead, got the surgery, got it removed and said, ‘I’m going to get beyond this.’”
The straight-forward approach runs in Park’s genes. When Park’s father learned of his Stage 4 prostate cancer diagnosis, he shared the news with Ken and his two brothers in an attachment to an email, sparing all emotion. The news left him in shock, and his father’s subsequent death gave him that one degree of separation so many share with cancer.
It also spurred him to more closely monitor his health, and routinely get PSA tests. That move proved lifesaving, but Park never really took time to reflect on the life-altering impact of his cancer journey. His work with the Cattle Baron’s Ball has allowed him to learn about other courageous cancer survivors and dedicated staff and volunteers.
“This has been a therapeutic opportunity for me to be inspired and to really meet some incredible people and moving stories along the way,” Park told those who gathered for the final chapter of the series on Sept. 29. “The Trailblazer Series was kind of my therapy along the way. Meeting with all of you was part of that as well.”
ACS reaped a lot of benefits from what Park calls therapy. His marketing acumen, attention to detail and sense of storytelling all proved to be valued assets in crafting the vision for this year’s event. In genuine humility, Park deflected praise and was quick to credit SignalWire and ACS senior development manager Celia Hagerman.
But Cotter gave the best summary of Park’s contributions.
“Without you we would be lost.”
The American Cancer Society welcomes Ken Park to its inaugural Cattle Barons Ball Wall of Courage.
As she sat in a clinic awaiting her final treatment for breast cancer eight years ago, Colleen Chappell searched for the right words to define the milestone moment on Facebook.
“I thought, ‘What am I going to say closing out this horrific phase of my life?’” Chappell said, growing emotional as she recalled the how she wrapped up 12 months of challenging treatments. “And I wrote, ‘I was forced to climb a mountain that I didn't want to climb, but the view at the top is priceless.’
“You think, ‘How dare someone make you do that, climb that mountain’ But then you have a new view on everything – which is the gift.”
Bridgette Bello helped Chappell, the CEO and president of ChappellRoberts marketing, celebrate her seminal moment in 2012. A photo still pops up in her Facebook memories every September with her and Chappell, Chappell wearing a T-shirt that bears the phrase, “Eff Cancer.”
But since 2017, that photo has possessed greater resonance for both women. Bello learned of her breast cancer diagnosis that year while preparing to attend a networking event. She almost opted out, but her mother told her, “That’s where you need to be.” As the meeting thinned out, Bello saw someone she knew could help her: Chappell.
“God puts us in places for reasons,” said Bello, CEO and publisher of Tampa Bay Business and Wealth.
Chappell took Bello by the hand and invited her to the top of the mountain. Now these two dear friends share that beautiful view as breast cancer survivors, members of the American Cancer Society’s CEOs Against Cancer Florida chapter and now, inaugural inductees of ACS’ Tampa Cattle Barons Ball Wall of Courage. ACS will honor 10 dynamic Tampa Bay residents who have continued to be community leaders while enduring a cancer journey at the Cattle Barons Ball, a virtual event set for 6 p.m. on Oct. 2.
The sisterhood Chappell and Bello share as friends and survivors proves inspiring, but it goes beyond just a shoulder to cry on or authentic empathy. When Bello shared the news, Chappell turned into a patient advocate and flew into action.
“Colleen held my hand through the whole process,” Bello said.
Within a day, Chappell had called Florida Cancer Specialists Shelly Glenn, who helped arrange for Bello to see an FCS oncologist.
“All I knew was that Bridgette had been there for me, so I was going to be there for her,” Chappell said. “The most important thing I've learned is you have to get the facts and you have to get all of the facts quickly, because time is of the essence.”
She also offered the Bello family prescient advice, instructing Bridgette’s husband, Jose Bello, to be the eyes and ears when doctors spoke and write details down on a legal pad. Bello conceded you’re in a bit of a fog as doctors go through all the treatment options and possible outcomes.
“She told Jose, ‘Don't rely on her to know what questions to ask. You need to be the one asking the questions,’” Chappell explained. “’She's not going to hear the answers. You need to write down what they say, because she's not going to hear the answers.’ It was just some really invaluable advice. I quite frankly don't know what we would've done without Colleen's help.”
Chappell’s husband Dan, a firefighter/paramedic, used his expertise to help her with her Stage 1 diagnosis and cancer journey. Both women say the impact on family members can be as difficult as the treatment process.
As members of CEOs Against Cancer, both now work tirelessly to help the American Cancer Society advance its mission. They proved to be pivotal in helping ACS turn Fit2Be Cancer Free, a local effort, into a national initiative that’s raised millions for the Society. Bello has long been involved with ACS, lending support to Making Strides Against Breast Cancer events and previous Cattle Barons Balls.
But now it’s different.
“It certainly changed my perspective now that I have a personal tie to it,” Bello said. “It didn't change my passion necessarily, but it definitely changed my understanding. For sure.”
A lot changes when you view the world from a new mountain peak.
The American Cancer Society welcomes Chappell and Bello to its inaugural Cattle Barons Ball Wall of Courage.
The global pandemic has served only to enhance the value of those two words in 2020, and the University of South Florida College of Public Health has played a role. It has doctoral candidates working in public health laboratories. It has a web page tracking the latest COVID-19 developments. It’s supporting COVID-19 research partnerships with new seed grants.
All of that and more can be traced to the sense of service instilled in Sam Bell III as a child.
“My father was a Methodist minister and my mother was a schoolteacher,” Bell said. “I grew up, therefore in a home that believed in service. My education and my activities growing up all pointed to public service.”
Bell, the founder and beloved “godfather” of the USF College of Public Health, championed the bill that created the state’s first college of public health as a state legislator. He also continued to serve the community as an attorney after his legislative stint -- all while enduring a cancer journey.
It’s Bell’s sense of service and his perseverance as a cancer survivor that has led the American Cancer Society’s Tampa Cattle Baron’s Ball to include him as an inaugural inductee to its Wall of Courage. ACS’ annual gala, a virtual event set for Oct. 2, has chosen Bell and nine others for this inaugural salute to Tampa Bay residents who have endured a cancer journey and continued to contribute to the community.
The 2020 significance of his contribution is not lost on Bell.
“People questioned the need for a college of public health,” Bell said. “They said medical and clinical treatment had done away with the need for public health. Our experience over the past 35 years of the life of the College and certainly that of the last six months has proven the need for public health.”
Even before his 14-year tenure in the Florida Legislature as a Volusia County representative, Bell took an interest in health issues, helping start a drug treatment program for teenagers. In the legislature, he joined the Health and Human Services committee and took a greater interest in improving the state’s health approach, particularly with children.
His work ultimately led to the creation of the Institute for Child Health Policy at the University of Florida and was a strong supporter of Children’s Medical Services. He also rose to prominent positions in the state House, and his colleagues once voted him most respected member.
But the USF College of Public Health remains one of his proudest accomplishments. He’s the husband of former USF president Betty Castor, but he chose the Tampa university as the site for the new college long before he had a connection to the school.
He continued his service-oriented work as an attorney, but he also had to overcome a prostate cancer diagnosis. Bell says the cancer journey changed his perspective.
I remember when I first knew I had prostate cancer,” Bell said. “I was driving in my car in Tallahassee. I received a call from my doctor saying I had cancer and needed to take action right away. Since then several friends of mine have died of prostate cancer because they did not catch it in time for surgery. Both the cancer and the cure have had significant effects on my life.
“I realize how fragile life is.”
The American Cancer Society welcomes Bell to its inaugural Cattle Barons Ball Wall of Courage.
Attorney Theresa Jean-Pierre Coy provides her Facebook friends with an engaging mix of posts.
In her feed, you can find praise for the recent Verzuz concert between singing stars Brandy and Monica, mourning for fallen actor Chadwick Boseman, references to her beloved Brooklyn upbringing (walking from the A Train Euclid Ave. station with her Walkman) and salutes to her boys -- husband Travis and son Thaddeus.
You’ll also find posts about her cancer journey because ever since doctors diagnosed her with breast cancer in 2017, she’s upheld her promise to share posts about the ups and downs of being a survivor. So, in a recent post you see a port delivering a new infusion as she continues to battle.
Of course, she just wanted to show off her new hairstyle.
“Although (the meds) are kicking my butt, they’re not killing my spirits,” Jean-Pierre Coy wrote. “I post this pic not for sympathy but because I wanted ya’ll to see my twist out and how cuuute it looks.
“But seriously, keep praying for ya girl and her boys. We got this.”
It’s this remarkable brand of transparency, combined with her uncommon work as a defense attorney and law professor, that takes Jean-Pierre Coy from a page of courageous posts to the Tampa Cattle Baron Ball’s Wall of Courage. The American Cancer Society’s annual gala, a virtual event set for Oct. 2, has chosen Jean-Pierre Coy and nine others for this inaugural salute to Tampa Bay residents who have endured a cancer journey and continued to contribute to the community.
It’s not the first honor Jean-Pierre Coy has received in 2020. The Florida Bar named the founder of Jean-Pierre Coy, P.A., as the 2020 recipient of the G. Kirk Haas Humanitarian Award. The bar cited her role as a teacher at Stetson Law School, her work as a former assistant public defender and her willingness to work through searing back pain during jury selection for a high profile 2019 trial.
After the trial, she went to Moffitt Cancer Center and learned her breast cancer had spread to her bones, resulting in a spinal fracture.
She continued to work that trial despite the setback, drawing criticism from some in the African-American community because she worked on the defense team for Michael Drejka, a white man who shot a Black father in front of a Clearwater convenience store.
Jean-Pierre Coy, 40, responded to the criticism by noting “one who vigorously challenges the system is not condoning a crime or the person who committed it. But rather, is attempting to make that system more just for those it seeks to hurt the most.”
It wasn’t the first time she displayed her principled beliefs or willingness to work through pain. Five days after becoming president of the George Edgecomb Bar Association, Jean-Pierre Coy learned she was pregnant for the seventh time. She had previously suffered six miscarriages, but chose to continue handling the demanding presidential role, even after doctors put her on bed rest in January 2017 while treating her for pre-eclampsia, a pregnancy complication from high blood pressure.
Thaddeus was born to her and husband Travis, the juvenile division chief for the Hillsborough state attorney, and then she received the breast cancer diagnosis months later. Jean-Pierre Coy sustained her two-year tenure as Edgecomb president and decided to go with the flow, even if going with the flow meant handling conference calls from her bed, holding private meetings during chemo treatment, shaving her hair when little Thad began pulling out plugs and forgoing wigs. It also meant consistently calling on her Christian faith for strength and, naturally, courage.
She told friends and family, “This is me.”
Today, she continues to be Theresa and shine as an attorney, professor, wife and mother.
The American Cancer Society
welcomes Jean-Pierre Coy to its inaugural Cattle Barons Ball Wall of Courage.
Steve Weintraub came to Tampa Bay some 40 years ago with a plan to earn a living gold-plating sand dollar shells. The job often led the Niagra Falls, N.Y., native to Dunedin’s Honeymoon Island, the scenic white sand beach often considered one of the nation’s best.
What a life. Weintraub, a self-described sun worshiper, didn’t worry much about sunscreen or harmful UV rays while gathering up the sand dollars and converting them into real cash.
“When you’re young, you feel like you’re invincible,” said Weintraub, who first moved here in his late 20s.
The sense he never needed to worry about the sun changed six years ago when doctors diagnosed Weintraub with melanoma on the middle of his back. Weintraub underwent a procedure to remove cancerous cells before they attached to his organs and became even more life threatening. The procedure -- Weintraub will show the harrowing surgery photos if you want -- left a foot-long scar on his back.
But it also left him cancer-free -- for the second time.
Weintraub’s status as a two-time cancer survivor and his community leadership are just two of the reasons the American Cancer Society has chosen him to be an inaugural honoree on its Tampa Cattle Barons Ball Wall of Courage. The virtual event, set for Oct. 2, will honor nine dynamic residents of Tampa Bay who have endured a cancer journey.
Not only did he survive a melanoma scare, but Weintraub also has overcome eye cancer -- an effort that involved surgeries and using painful chemotherapy eye drops. His ability to thrive after such challenges can be summed up in three words: Adapt and survive. And that’s a phrase that extends to his business acumen.
Weintraub’s initial sand dollar business has gone through a number of iterations before ascending as the Gold & Diamond Source, the popular retailer on Ulmerton Raod in Clearwater that now stands as one of the top five highest volume jewelry stores per square foot in the nation.
How has he done it?
“Things happen in business: real estate crashes, covid hits,” Weintraub said. “But a lot of businesses won’t change. Much of my success has been a willingness to change.”
Weintraub also is quick to credit his wife Julie for helping him transition to a higher level of success. The couple have become television stars with Julie annually shipping Steve off to some distant locale in their fictitious commercials so she can she slash prices.
They’ve also become well-known philanthropic leaders. Their Hands Across The Bay nonprofit has lent support to a wide variety of charities and events, including past American Cancer Society Cattle Barons Ball. They established Hands Across The Bay to positively impact the lives of as many Tampa Bay residents as possible. From all accounts, it’s mission accomplish thanks largely, Weintraub says, to Julie’s tireless efforts.
“We believe we owe everything to Tampa Bay,” Weintraub said. “We believe whatever we give, we get back 10 times. You’re not put on this earth to make money. You’re put here to be happy and help other people. We’re doing that and I think we’ve done very well.”
The American Cancer Society welcomes Vojnovic to its inaugural Cattle Barons Ball Wall of Courage.
You know her as Linda Hurtado, FOX13 news anchor, covering news for our community for over 25 years. She’s also a published author, penning three books under the pen name Linda Bond.
While Hurtado takes great pride in providing relevant information to the Tampa Bay community -- as well as being a wife, mother, and author -- she also takes pride in supporting the American Cancer Society. Fox 13 got behind Linda’s efforts to support and emcee ACS events, including the Tampa Cattle Barron’s Ball. When her publisher, Entangled Publishing, gave her an opportunity to promote a nonprofit, she wasted no time in picking ACS. She’s posted inspiring videos and made numerous speeches explaining her personal and professional commitment to ACS.
These are just a few of the reasons she will be honored on ACS’ Wall of Courage during the Society’s Tampa Cattle Barons Ball. The virtual event, set for Oct. 2, will salute nine dynamic Tampa Bay residents who have endured a cancer journey.
Her involvement with the American Cancer Society began when she was a college student (and a majorette in the band) at the University of Georgia. Her mother, Connie Rae Bond, was first diagnosed then but didn’t share the news with Linda until after her double mastectomy.
“That was during a time when women really didn’t talk about having cancer,” Hurtado explained to her Facebook followers. “It was something you just swept under the rug and dealt with.
“My mother’s saving grace back in the day was the American Cancer Society. She found refuge and support there.”
Connie joined a pair of ACS support groups including Reach to Recovery, a peer counseling program for breast cancer patients that still thrives today. She also began appearing in fashion shows, modeling turbans for patients who had lost their hair.
When Linda became a news reporter, she started using her platform in Tampa Bay to support the Society by emceeing fashion shows and fundraisers for the society, including previous Cattle Barons Balls. The work was about more than just promoting a worthy nonprofit and being a part of the community.
“A lot of the different American Cancer Society events I participated in I did to honor my mother,” said Linda, who watched Connie finally succumb to cancer in 1995. “For me, it was a way to stay connected to her.”
Linda’s involvement with the American Cancer Society took on greater resonance when doctors diagnosed her with breast cancer in 2011. With family and friends lending support all along the way, she underwent a double mastectomy and treatment, and now she approaches 10 years as a survivor.
She continues to anchor the news at FOX13, write novels – she released her third this summer – and, of course, lend support to various American Cancer Society events. And she does so knowing her mother Connie is with her every step of the way.
“People used to always tell me, you look just like your mom,” Linda told her audience in a 2020 Mother’s Day salute to Connie. “I always loved hearing that because I saw my mom through loving eyes, and she was always beautiful even as she fought cancer and it slowly killed her. I grew up feeling cherished and I grew up feeling loved. I’d like to think she passed more on to me than the hair color and the eyes.
“She gave me compassion and taught me strength.”
The American Cancer Society welcomes Fox 13’s Linda Hurtado to its inaugural Cattle Barons Ball Wall of Courage.
Nick has helped build two successful restaurant franchises, served the community as a philanthropist and overcome cancer. He’s earned a moment to stick his toes in the sand and relax.
“Despite the negative efforts the pandemic has had on Little Greek’s business, giving back to the community has never been more important, Vojnovic adds.
Vojnovic’s philanthropy, as well as his bravery in the face of a cancer battle, are just two of the reasons the American Cancer Society has chosen him to be an inaugural honoree on its Tampa Cattle Barons Ball Wall of Courage. The virtual event, set for Oct. 2, will honor nine dynamic residents of Tampa Bay who have endured a cancer journey.
Vojnovic is so deserving. His indefatigable spirit reflects not only his lifelong commitment to philanthropy, but his joie de vivre after almost losing his life to cancer.
In 2016, doctors diagnosed Vojnovic with primary myelofibrosis, a life-threatening condition. Doctors said to live beyond three years, he needed a bone marrow transplant and stem cell therapy. But to successfully receive the transplant, he needed to find a donor who could be a match.
“It's overwhelming,” Vojnovic said. “You can't fathom it. Your brain's spinning. You're kind of not hearing what they're saying.”
Vojnovic, now 61, not only sought a donor, but used his platform to promote the bone marrow registry. He wanted to help himself and others. At the same time, he made sure to lend comfort to his family: his wife, Rene, son Jon and daughter, Lauren. His daughter actually got a tattoo on her arm: “I love you very much, dad.”
Doctors eventually found a donor – one out of 30 million in the registry -- and performed the procedure in January 2017. A year later, Vojnovic met the woman who saved his life in an emotional meeting at a Clearwater Beach hotel. The Tampa Bay Times chronicled the gathering.
With his new extension on life, Vojnovic has not slowed down. He continues to oversee Little Greek’s franchise network, 44 locations in six states and while lending support to the University of South Florida’s Muma College of Business and other institutions.
The American Cancer Society welcomes Vojnovic to its inaugural Cattle Barons Ball Wall of Courage.
The American Cancer Society is on a mission to free the world from cancer. For more than 100 years, we have helped lead an evolution in the way the world prevents, detects, treats, and thinks about cancer. As the nation’s preeminent cancer-fighting organization, we fund and conduct research, share expert information, support people with cancer, spread the word about prevention, and through our advocacy affiliate, ACS CAN, advocate for public policy change. We are committed to ensuring that ALL people have a fair and just opportunity to prevent, find, treat, and survive cancer – regardless of income, race and ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability status, or where they live. Thanks in large part to our decades of work, a cancer diagnosis does not come without hope, and the cancer journey is not one that is traveled alone.
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